Identity Theft

Identity theft is the use of another person’s identity without their consent. Often times, identity thieves make use of stolen identities for financial gain. Common things used during identity theft situations are: names/addresses, social security numbers, and credit card numbers.
 
For example, an identity thief could use social engineering to obtain a user’s social security number. After this, the thief could use this number to open a credit line in the victim’s name. After using the available credit, and not paying, the thief could cut all ties to the fraudulent account. Once the creditor and victim were aware the account was fraudulent, the thief could be gone.
 
What can I do to protect myself?
 
Users should be cautious when providing Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This information includes, but is not limited to: credit card numbers, social security numbers, full name, and birthday. This information should only be given to trusted parties.
 
Users should be careful when disposing of documents containing PII. These documents should be destroyed, before being disposed of. Common destruction methods include shredding and burning.
 
Users should monitor their credit accounts to ensure no fraudulent accounts have been set up in their name. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires credit reporting companies to provide a free yearly credit report. Users should be aware though; there are many fraudulent websites that indicate they provide credit reports. The FTC recommends users visit www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain their free yearly credit report.
 
Users who feel they have been a victim of identity theft should contact their local law enforcement agency about filing a police report.