Identity theft occurs when personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud or other crimes. It can cost time and money, destroy credit, and damage reputations.
Deter identity theft by safeguarding information:
Shred personal documents before discarding them. Trash is not safe from access by others.
Do not disclose personal information over the phone, on the Internet, or through the mail unless you know who you are dealing with.
Protect your Social Security number. Do not write it on a check or give it out unless absolutely necessary.
Do not click on links received in unsolicited e-mails; instead, type in a web address you know.
Protect the information in your computer. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software. Do not use obvious passwords.
Beware of phishing: fraudulent e-mails or messages pretending to be from legitimate institutions and seeking personal information.
Keep personal information in a secure place, away from visitors and people doing work or services in your home or workplace.
Official online sources of identity safeguard information:
Credit reports contain personal information, including financial accounts and bill paying histories. Federal law requires the major credit reporting companies to provide a free copy of your credit report each year upon request. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request your credit report.