Identity Theft Awareness

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your sensitive data to pose as you or steal from you. They may target your bank account, credit cards, or anything else they can access to take what does not belong to them. Protect yourself from identity thieves by reviewing common types of identity theft and ways to prevent identity theft below.

Common types of identity theft

  • Credit identity theft: When a criminal uses your personal information to apply for a new credit line. This may include use of your birthdate or Social Security number.
  • Child identity theft: Stealing a child’s identity to apply for credit in the child’s name. This type can go undetected for years – often until the child is old enough to apply for credit.
  • Synthetic identity theft: A combination of details are used together to construct a fake individual. For example, a criminal may combine a child’s Social Security number with a random name and address.
  • Taxpayer identity theft: A stolen Social Security number is used to file a tax return, which may also lead to a stolen tax refund or tax credit.
  • Medical identity theft: When someone else’s identity is used to receive health care services.
  • Account takeover: Personal data is used to access your financial accounts, and then information is changed in order to lock you out of the account.
  • Criminal identity theft: When someone provides the name and address of another individual during an arrest or investigation. This is often accompanied by a fake ID.

Ways to prevent identity theft

  • Freeze your credit if you suspect someone has stolen your identity.
  • Shred or securely store paperwork that includes your Social Security number.
  • Stay current on the newest phishing and spoofing scams.
  • Use two factor authentication and strong passwords.
  • Sign up to receive alerts when transactions are made on your financial accounts.
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery with USPS to see if anything is missing from your mailbox.
  • Shred anything containing your personal information that you are not safely storing.
  • Use a digital wallet to pay whenever available.
  • Protect your mobile devices with passwords.
  • Check your credit report.
  • Read financial and medical statements carefully.

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