Many times, the reason for online threats like phishing, spyware, and hackers is identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Criminals can use your good name to obtain loans, healthcare, rentals, or credit cards. Often times, this can go undetected for many months, and cleanup can be exceeding difficult.
Consider the following steps to protect your "paper trail":
Many scams target your personal information. Many times they have one thing in common - somebody asks you for the information without you initiating the contact. If this happens, question the legitimacy of the request.
Don't reply to an email, text, or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, and don't click on links in the message.
If you want to go to a bank or business' website, type the web address into your browser yourself. Use web bookmarks so you don’t make a typo.
Don't respond if you get a message – by email, text, pop-up or phone – that asks you to call a phone number to update your account or give your personal information to access a refund. If in doubt, call the number on the back of your credit or debit card, or on your financial statements.
If you have released any information improperly or believe you may have compromised account information, please immediately report it to Customer Care (email@example.com) or call 800-682-4989. You may also use the reporting fraud link on this site.
To learn more about strategies to protect your personal information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website Onguardonline.
The FBI considers identity theft one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and estimates 500,000 to 700,000 Americans become identity theft victims each year.
Identity theft is a federal crime. It occurs when one person's identification (which can include name, social security number or any account number) is used or transferred by another person for unlawful activities.
The Federal Reserve Board recently made available a new booklet designed to help consumers protect themselves against identity theft. The booklet describes the dangers posed by identity thieves, what people can do to protect themselves and what you should do if you're a victim.
Click here for a printable version of the booklet, "Identity Theft".
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader .)
Protect Your Identity. Prevention is the first step in minimizing your risk. Below are some guidelines for you to consider:
There are several government and consumer groups available if you would like to learn more about identity theft. Listed below is the contact information for the most common organizations.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Report Fraud: (800) 525-6285
Order a Credit Report: (800) 685-1111
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
Report Fraud: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Order a Credit Report: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
Report Fraud: (800) 680-7289
Order a Credit Report: (800) 916-8800
Federal Government Resources
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Report Fraud: (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338)
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
P.O. Box 17768
Baltimore, MD 21235
Social Security Fraud Hot Line: (800) 269-0271
U.S. POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260
Social Security Fraud Hot Line: (800) 372-8347
IDENTITY THEFT RESOURCE CENTER
P.O. Box 26833
San Diego, CA 92196
PRIVACY RIGHTS CLEARINGHOUSE
3100 - 5th Ave., Suite B
San Diego, CA 92103
DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512