What is Financial Identity Theft?
Financial Identity Theft is the act of one person posing as another individual for monetary gain.
A stolen identity can be used for opening credit or store card accounts, savings or checking [bank] accounts, securing loans, obtaining employment, establishing residence and utilities, and accessing or changing additional personal accounts/information.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft can occur when a criminal gains access to personally sensitive, private information, including social security numbers, bank information and account number(s), credit card information and account numbers, etc.
- Keep a close eye on your Purse/Wallet; never leave them unattended in a public location
- Store personal and financial information - including credit card offers and statements - in a safe, secure location
- Shred/burn/destroy personal and financial information when no longer needed
- Don't share personally sensitive information, like a Social Security Number, over the phone unless you initiated the call
- If your Social Security Number is used as an ID number for health insurance, drivers license, etc., request an alternate ID number
- Limit the number of personally identifying items you carry in your purse/wallet
- If an establishment wishes to copy or scan your drivers license, ask if this is required, and/or if there is alternate method
Credit Cards & Checks
- Never use credit cards/checks if you question the vendors' reputability
- Limit the number of credit cards you carry in your purse/wallet
- Observe and test the card reader, such as those used by ATM's and gas pumps, before inserting your card. If they protrude significantly or are unsteady, wobbly, or appear broken in any way, do not use the machine.
- Shred/burn/destroy credit card offers that you receive in the mail
- See Also: Debit Card Safety
- Don't leave payments or personally sensitive outgoing mail for carrier pick-up; drop these items off at the post office instead
- Report to your local post office immediately if you suspect you are missing mail or there has been mail tampering
- NEVER share personally sensitive information via e-mail
- NEVER respond to e-mail that asks for personally sensitive information, even if the message uses a scare tactic. Reputable organizations will use the phone to communicate urgent messages.
- Don't share personally sensitive information with websites that appear un-reputable (outdated design, poor English grammar, misspellings, or punctuation, no SSL security method in use, etc)
- Don't share personally sensitive information with a website unless you initiated the connection to that website (including clicking on Advertisements or Links)
- If possible, don't save personally sensitive information on your computer
- Ensure Spyware/Virus/Malware protection is installed on your computer and up-to-date
- Ensure your computer automatically installs Operating System software updates
- Use a software AND hardware firewall
- See Also: Internet Safety and E-Mail Safety
Uncovering Identity Theft
Keep an eye on your financial activity. If you suspect fraudulent charges, contact the financial institution that issued the account immediately!
Obtain and review yearly your entire credit report from each of the three main National Credit Reporting Bureaus. See Consumer Credit for more information.
Responding to Identity Theft
1. If you suspect Identity Theft, contact your financial institutions immediately to help safeguard your existing accounts.
2. Also contact each of the three main National Credit Reporting Bureaus to place a fraud watch on your account. This will help prevent a criminal from opening credit card, store card, other credit accounts, and loans in your name.
3. Contact the IRS to obtain a PIN for filing taxes so that your refund isn't stolen.
4. Contact Us immediately for further options and up-to-date information.