Identity theft is when someone obtains essential information about you, such as your social security number, date of birth, and mother's maiden name and uses it to open credit card accounts and loans in your name.
Ways to Protect Yourself
- Make your User ID and Password as secure as possible - Create a password that only you would know. See Computer Security - Password selection for more guidance on choosing a password.
- Change your Password - Remember to change your password every 30-60 days.
- Don't send sensitive information via e-mail - Never e-mail your password, account number, social security number or other sensitive information to anyone.
- Never leave your computer unattended - Complete your banking tasks and end your web sessions by always signing off and closing the browser window.
- Be careful how much personal information you post online - When visiting social networks, remember that sharing information like your birth date, phone number, e-mail address, location and photos can put your identity at risk.
- Never write down PINs and passwords - Memorize them instead.
How to Spot Identity Theft
Identity thieves can strike even if you've been very careful with your personal information. Some hints of identity theft may include:
- Failing to receive bills or other mail.
- Receiving cards or billing statements on accounts for which you did not apply.
- Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you didn't buy.
If you think you may be a victim, you can obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. If it's accurate and includes only those activities you've authorized, chances are your identity wasn't stolen.