Identity theft occurs when someone takes, uses, sells or transfers the personal identifying information of someone else without that person’s approval, with the intent to use the information for an unlawful purpose.
- How do identity thieves use my information?
- Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, ask to change the mailing address on the credit card account. As bills will go to the new address, it may take some time before you realize there is a problem.
- Open a new credit card account using your name, date of birth and social security number. When they do not pay the bills, the delinquent account is put on your credit report.
- Establish phone or wireless service in your name.
- Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
- File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they have incurred under your name or to avoid eviction.
- Take out auto loans in your name.
- Give your name to the police during an arrest. If they do not show up for their court date, an arrest warrant is issued in your name.
- Use your social security number to obtain employment credentials.
- What are the most common kinds of identity theft?
- Credit card fraud
- Phone and utility fraud
- Bank fraud
- Employment-related fraud
- Government document or benefit fraud
- Loan fraud
- What is personal identifying information?
It includes your:
- Date of birth
- Pin numbers
- Account numbers
- Telephone numbers
- E-mail address & screen name
- Social security number
- Driver’s license number
- How does identity theft occur?
Skilled thieves get your personal identifying information by:
- Stealing your purse or wallet.
- Stealing your ID cards, credit cards and bankcards.
- Stealing personal information from your home.
- Stealing mail, including account statements, pre-approved credit card offers and tax information.
- Stealing credit or debit card numbers as the card is being processed,
- Going through your trash, or the trash of businesses and dumps.
- Buying personal information from sources such as employees at stores, restaurants or hotels.
- Pretending to be your landlord or employer to get your credit reports or personnel records.
- Diverting your mail by using a change of address form.
- “Skimming” your credit card through a special information device that stores the card information.
- “Shoulder surfing” to overhear or see any personal identifying information.
- You give it to people you trust.
- How can I protect myself
To help minimize the risk of becoming a victim, take a few simple steps. To start, remember the word “SCAM.”
- S: Be STINGY about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are.
- C: CHECK your finance information regularly and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t.
- A: Remember to ASK periodically for a copy of your credit report.
- MAINTAIN careful records of your banking and financial accounts. Educating yourself is the best way to minimize identity fraud.
Educating yourself is the best way to minimize identity fraud.
- I'm a victim. What now?
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and carefully review them.
- Contact your creditors and financial institutions. Close all accounts that have been accessed by the identity thieves. Ask for passwords to secure new accounts.
- Keep a log of who you speak to and when. Send a follow-up letter for all phone calls and send all letters by certified mail. Keep copies of all letters and documents.
- File a report with the police in the community where the ID theft took place. Ask for a copy of the report to show your creditors and financial institutions.
- To make a police report with the Salt Lake City Police Department, call (801) 799-3000.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Identity Theft Department, (877) ID THEFT
- File a report with one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus to put a fraud alert on your name. Order credit reports and review them thoroughly.
- If mail was stolen or tampered with, contact the Postal Inspection Service at (801) 974-2271
- If Social Security Number/Card has been stolen, call the SSN Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271
- If your checks have been stolen or misused, close the account and ask your bank to notify the appropriate check verification service.
- OPT OUT: stop pre-approved credi cards at 1-888-567-8688
Additional information and resources are available on the Internet at Identity Theft Resource Center.