Identity theft occurs when a criminal obtains and uses someone else’s personal information, such as; credit card numbers, bank account numbers, insurance information or a Social Security number to purchase goods or services fraudulently.
Identity theft is a state and federal crime. If you think you are a victim of identity theft contact your local police department immediately and file a police report.
Tips to safeguard your personal information:
- Protect your Social Security number.
- Shred any and all personal documents.
- Treat your mail with care: Stolen mail is almost the easiest way to get vital information.
- When using the Internet, be on guard and watch for scams: Do not give personal information to people or companies who may ask you to click a link to verify your information. Do not click on links in email from unknown senders – if it is spam, it is a scam. Also, identity thieves have been using new “phising” techniques; they pretend to be an authoritative organization, such as your credit card or EBay, asking you to verify your information. Never use these scam links; instead, log directly into your institution’s website, and chances are you will see that the email was a scam.
- Select strong and unique passwords: When asked for a security question, do not use your mother’s maiden name, as this is very sensitive information. Memorize your passwords and PIN numbers, but do not use anything that would be easily guessed, such as birthdates or social security numbers.
- Verify sources before sharing information: Only provide information over the phone to people that you know. Avoid conducting surveys over the phone; they gather too much personal information that puts your safety at risk.
- Review your credit report frequently: Order your credit report at least twice a year and clean out old credit and debit cards not used.
- Consider identity theft coverage: An ounce of prevention goes a long way, especially when you think of the countless hours that you could spend attempting to recover your stolen identity.
- Store information in secure locations: Put together a file of important information to safeguard your records. Make copies of all credit cards and bank account numbers, as well as their customer service phone numbers. Do not trust your hard drive to protect your identity, especially if it is connected to the internet.
- Safeguard your wallet and personal checks: Even though it is convenient to keep some things in your wallet, only carry what you absolutely need for day-to-day dealings.
For more information on identity theft, check out the Ohio Attorney General’s website below: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/IdentityTheft