How Safe is Your Identity?

What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone's identity is 'stolen' in which someone pretends to be
someone they are not. They could use your:

  • name and/or address
  • credit card or bank accounts
  • Social Security number
  • medical insurance account numbers

What can be done with your personal information?

  • buy things with your credit cards
  • get new credit cards
  • open a phone, electricity, or gas account
  • steal your tax refund
  • get medical care
  • pretend to be you if they are arrested

How can a thief steal my identity?
They can get your information in person or online. A thief might:

  • steal your mail or garbage to get your account numbers or your Social Security number
  • trick you into sending personal information in an email
  • steal your account numbers from a business or medical office
  • steal your wallet or purse to get your personal information

How should I know if my identity has been stolen?

  • Read your bills. Do you see charges for things you did not buy?
  • Watch your bank account statement. Are there withdrawals you did not make? Are there changes you do not expect?
  • Check your mail. Did you stop getting a bill? Or did you start getting a new bill you do not know about?
  • Get your credit report. Are there accounts or other information you do not recognize?
    If yes to any of these, your identity is probably stolen.

Can I protect myself from Identity Thief?
When in a store:

  • watch your wallet
  • are careful with your credit card or debit card
  • do not tell people your PIN number

When you shop online, you can:

  • use passwords that people cannot guess
  • shop on secure websites. They have an address that starts with “https”
  • DO NOT put personal information on computers in public spaces, like the library
  • have security software on your own computer

How to Save yourself from Identity Theft:

At home:

  • keep your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe place
  • shred papers that have your personal or medical information
  • take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can

When doing business:

  • only give your Social Security number if you must. Ask if you can use another kind of identification
  • do not give your personal information to someone who calls you or emails you

On the computer:

  • use passwords that are not easy to guess. Use numbers and symbols when you can
  • do not respond to emails or other messages that ask for personal information
  • do not put personal information on a computer in a public place, like the library

Comment Stream