Consumers lose $200 billion annually from identity theft. Here's some information on how you can prevent this from happening to you.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information to obtain credit, employment, or service in your name.
So how do thieves steal your identity?
- They steal wallets and purses containing your identification, credit, bank, and social security cards.
- They steal your mail.
- They rummage through your trash.
- They buy your personal information.
How can you protect yourself?
- Be alert and manage your credit and personal information.
- Shred all personal documents before you throw them away. This includes pre-approved credit card offers.
- Do not carry your social security card with you. Keep it at home in a safe place or in a safe deposit box.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone to people who call you. No one from the credit union will call you and ask for your account information, social security number, or other personal information.
- When giving personal information online, make sure you are on a secure site. Secure sites will begin with https.
If you suspect that you have become a victim of identity theft, REPORT IT!
- You can opt out of receiving pre-approved credit card offers. To do so, dial: 1-888-567-8688. This is a fully automated system. It is ok to enter in your social security number; that is how they track the people who do not want these offers.
- You can opt out of receiving telemarketing phone calls. To do so, dial: 1-888-382-1222 or go to: donotcall.gov.
DOs and DON'Ts of Protecting Your Identity
- Check your credit report annually for unfamiliar accounts reporting under your name.
- Shred all documents with personal information before throwing them away.
- Make sure when giving personal information online, the website is a secure site. Secure sites will begin with https.
- Ask questions about how your personal information will be used. Be very cautious about what information you disclose.
- Sign up to receive paperless e-statements so your financial records are not left in mailboxes or garbage for easy theft.
- Carry your social security card with you. Leave it at home in a safe place until you need it.
- Place your garbage can on the curb the night before garbage day. This gives thieves all night to rummage through your trash.
- Give personal information over the phone to people who call you.
- Place outgoing mail in your mailbox. This alerts thieves that there may be personal information in your mailbox. Instead, take your outgoing mail to the post office.