Identity theft is defined as the illegal use of someone else's personal information in order to obtain money or credit.
Identity Thieves typically steal someone’s:
- Name and Address.
- Credit card or bank account numbers.
- Social Security number.
- Medical insurance account numbers.
Why should I care if someone steals my identity?
You are responsible for what the thief does while using your personal information. You might have to pay for what the thief buys, even if you do not know about the bills.
An identity thief can use your name and information to:
- Open a phone, electricity or gas account.
- Steal your tax refund.
- Get medical care.
- Get new credit cards.
- Change the address on a bill and never pay them, making it look as though you don’t pay your bills which can affect your credit.
An identity thief can get your personal information in person or online. Here are some ways thieves might steal someone’s identity:
- Steal your mail or garbage to get your account numbers or 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 do you protect yourself against Identity Theft?
- Read your bills - Do you see charges for things you did not buy? If so, report the fraudulent charges immediately to your card provider.
- 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? Did you start getting a new bill you did not know about?
- Get your credit report - Are there accounts or other information you do not recognize?
You get one free credit report every year from each credit reporting company.
How to order a Credit Report:
Call Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228 or go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Sources: Federal Trade Commission and US Department of Justice