Identity Theft

Protecting your identity and helping you safeguard your sensitive information

What is identity theft?

Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone's identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number and mother's maiden name, in order to impersonate them. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud which include, but are not limited to, taking over the victim's financial accounts, opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobile, applying for loans, credit cards and social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services with utility and phone companies. There are two types identity theft: New Account and Account Takeover.

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes it a federal crime when someone: “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 applicable state or local law." Under the Act, a name or SSN is considered a "means of identification." A credit card number, cellular telephone, electronic serial number or any other piece of information that may be used alone or in conjunction with other information to identify a specific individual.

Key Preventative Actions

  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office. Do not leave in unsecured mail receptacles.
  • Never give personal information over the telephone.
  • Shred pre-approved credit application, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information.
  • Empty your wallet of extra credit cards and IDs.
  • Order your credit report from the three credit bureaus once a year to check for fraudulent activity.
  • Never leave receipts at bank/credit union machines, bank/credit union counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gasoline pumps.
  • Memorize your social security number and all of your passwords.
  • Sign all new credit cards upon receipt.
  • Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bill.
  • Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.

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Action Steps for Identity Theft Victims

  1. Contact all creditors, by phone and in writing, to inform them of the problem.
  2. Call your nearest U.S. Postal Inspection Service office and your local police.
  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the problem.
  4. Call each of the three credit bureaus' fraud unit to report identity theft. Ask to have a Fraud Alert/Victim Impact statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.
  5. Alert your credit union to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity.
  6. Request a change of PIN and a new password.
  7. Keep a log of all your contacts and make copies of all documents. You may also want to contact a privacy or consumer advocacy group regarding illegal activity.
  8. Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline.
  9. Contact the state office of the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if another license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license number and fill out DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process.

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