What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a criminal offense. It occurs when a person knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit or to aid or abet any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law or that constitutes a felony under any state. Last year alone, more than 9.9 million Americans were victims of identity theft, a crime that cost them roughly $5 billion.
Tips to Prevent Identity Theft!
- Review your consumer credit reports annually. www.annualcreditreport.com
- Shred and destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information.
- Deposit mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.
- Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends.
- Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- If you applied for a credit card and didn’t receive it when expected, call the financial institution.
- Sign new credit cards immediately–before someone else does.
- Memorize your Social Security number and passwords. Don’t use your date of birth as your password and don’t record passwords on papers you carry with you.
- Never leave transaction receipts at ATM machines, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or birth certificate–leave them in a secure location.
- Don’t disclose credit card or other financial account numbers on a Web site unless the site offers a secure transaction.
- Closely monitor the expiration dates on your credit cards and contact the issuer if you don’t receive a replacement prior to the expiration date.
- Beware of mail or telephone solicitations that offer prizes or awards–especially if the person asks you for personal information or financial account numbers.
- Match your credit card receipts against your monthly bills and check your monthly financial statements for accuracy.
- Watch for your monthly financial statements and bills. If you don’t get them when expected, contact the sender.