Identity theft is a crime where an imposter obtains personally identifiable information (PII) in order to impersonate someone else.
Identity theft often starts off with the acquisition of the victim’s social security number or driver’s license number, and then can lead to the obtaining of credit, services and merchandise in the name of the victim. It might also lead to a criminal record or arrest warrants for the victim.
Identity thieves use various methods to gain access to your personal data. Examples of these methods include:
Phishing is computer related fraud whereby criminals attempt to access your data electronically by posing as a legitimate business that you may deal with. Be skeptical of emails with links or attachments and a statement that an urgent reply is needed. Phishing emails and website are created to mirror a legitimate website. Watch for typos and grammatical errors. If you suspect an email is not legitimate do not click on any links or open any attachments.
Smishing is similar to phishing, but rather than email, the criminal sends text messages to a smartphone, trying to convince the victim to click a link which then infects their phone with a virus. If you suspect smishing, don’t click on links in a text message, instead, call the business/individual to verify that they sent the message.
Vishing involves a scammer using a phone to ask you for your personal data. Be skeptical of unexpected calls. Call the business back using the company’s published phone number to ensure the legitimacy of the call.
Read more about Self defense against scams.
For more on how to protect your personal information and privacy, stay safe online, and help your kids do the same, click here.
If you suspect you are the victim of identity theft please contact us at 1.800.832.0912 as soon as possible and also report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.identitytheft.gov.
For additional information on recovering from identity theft, review this packet from the FTC.