Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes.
In many cases, the victim is unaware of the activity until months after the incident. The effect of identity theft can be costly to you in terms of time and money.
No one is immune but you can take action to avoid becoming a victim.
Identity Theft can happen in many ways:
- After someone steals your wallet, purse or mail.
- By stealing personnel records from employers.
- By pretending to be financial institutions or businesses and sending spam email (called phishing) or pop-up messages in an attempt to get you to reveal your personal information.
- Identity thieves will also rummage through the trash at your home or workplace looking for bills or other documents with your personal information on it.
To protect your identity you should:
- Review your credit reports. You can do this for free annually! Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, which were established to handle consumer requests by the consumer reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Carefully guard your personal information and be selective about with whom you share it. Personal information includes such things as your name, address, phone number, driver's license number, social security number, credit card numbers, birth date, and mother's maiden name.
- Carry as few credit cards and forms of ID as possible. There's no reason to carry your social security card in your wallet.
- Keep a list or photocopies of all information you carry in your wallet or purse. Store this information in a secure location.
- Shred documents that contain your personal information and account numbers before you throw them away. This includes unsolicited credit card applications.
- Don't print your driver's license or social security number on your checks.
If you think you identity has been compromised:
- If your bank accounts have been compromised, immediately notify those Financial Institution(s). Make a note for your file of what Institution was contacted, who you talked to and the date/time your call was made.
- Place a verbal password on your accounts to prevent thieves from calling in and finding out more about your financial transactions.
- Close or transfer those accounts that have been compromised or tampered with to a new account number.
- Request that any account that was fraudulently opened in your name be closed immediately.
- Place a Fraud Alert on your Credit Report. You can do this by contacting the Credit Bureaus - please see important contact numbers listed on this page.
- Request a copy of your Credit Reports and review them carefully. Question any unknown activity and report disputes in writing.
- File a police report and maintain a copy in your file for future reference.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You can do this online via ftc.gov
- Keep an eye out for future attempts. Identity Thieves often will lay low for months and then strike again, hoping to catch you off guard.
Identity theft contact information:
- Telcoe Federal Credit Union
- Federal Trade Commission
- Order Credit Report: 800-685-1111
- Report Fraud: 800-525-6285
- Trans Union
- Order Credit Report: 800-888-4213
- Report Fraud: 800-680-7289