Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal identifying information. Identity thieves will use another person’s personal information, such as a social security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new bank accounts.
Here are a few steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Do not give personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing.
- Store personal information in a safe place and tear up old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Protect your PINs and other passwords. Avoid using easily available information, such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, etc.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. Inquire of the bank, if you do not receive a monthly bill. It may mean that the bill has been diverted by an identity thief.
- Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.
- Review your credit report at least annually. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to order your free credit reports each year. You also can write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281