What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, credit cards, checks or driver’s license without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. It’s one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
How does identity theft happen?
Despite the best efforts to manage use of our personal information, skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to your data. Thieves steal wallets and purses, change the address on credit accounts to divert mail to another location, steal mail from mailboxes and even rummage through garbage looking for personal data.
How do I reduce my risk of identity theft?
- Keep your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate in a secure location (like a home safe or safe deposit box) and use only when needed.
- Carry only necessary credit cards and identification information.
- Don’t provide your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name or other account information over the phone unless you’re sure the caller is legitimate or you initiated the call.
- Don’t place paid bills in your mailbox for pickup and have the post office hold your mail if you’lll be away from home.
- Enroll in e-statements for all accounts — financial and utilities.
- Shred credit card receipts, solicitations, cancelled checks and other financial documents before throwing them away.
- Have your name removed from mailing and solicitation lists. (City CU policy prevents us from providing your personal information to non-affiliated parties.)
- To opt out of receiving pre-screened unsolicited credit card offers, call (888) 5-OPT-OUT (567-8688).
What should I do if I become a victim?
- Most fraudulent use of cards or checks takes place within days of when they’re lost or stolen, so it’s important to act quickly.
- Contact your local police department immediately and report and the identity theft. If you are in Dallas, call (214) 744-4444; otherwise, call (877) ID-THEFT (438-4338).
- Notify the card issuer immediately. Keep a record of conversations and correspondence.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and request a “fraud alert” be placed on your name and Social Security number. Retailers and financial institutions use these three bureaus in lending decisions, so a fraud alert may help prevent someone from using your identity to get credit.
- File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); call the Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID-Theft (438-4338) go to the FTC’s ID Theft website.
- If your SSN has been used fraudulently, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) Fraud Hotline, (800) 269-0271.