How Safe is Your Identity?
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:
- 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