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Tip Center - Information About Identity Theft And Identity Theft Prevention Tips

Identity Theft

What is identity theft?


"But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed." - Shakespeare, Othello, act iii. Sc. 3.

Identity Theft (noun);

Identity theft is a form of fraud or cheating of another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name. The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if he or she is held accountable for the perpetrator's actions. Organizations and individuals who are duped or defrauded by the identity thief can also suffer adverse consequences and losses, and to that extent are also victims.

How does identity theft happen?


How identity theft happens:

How identity theft begins is when someone gets a hold of personal identity information, for instance you name, social security number, birth date, credit card numbers, banking numbers or other financial information. This information is as good as gold for identity thieves.

Here are some of the methods identity thieves get a hold of your information and identity theft occurs:

  • Dumpster Diving; when an identity thief rummages through the trash seeking personal identification information.
  • Skimming a special storage device used when processing your your credit or debit card.
  • Phishing fronting to be financial institutions sending spam or pop-up messages that may lead to a fake website to get your personal information.
  • Changing Your Address By completing a change of address form, your mail with important personal information is delivered to another address.
  • Physical Theft An identity thief will steal wallets and purses, mail, new checks, personal records or bribe employees who have access to personal records.
  • Pretexting A thief goes under false pretenses and obtains personal information from telephone companies, financial institutions and other sources that have personal information.

What do identity thieves do with your stolen identity?


Once an identity thief has your personal information, it can be used in a variety of ways.

Credit card identity theft:

  • A new credit card account may be opened in your name. Once the card is run to the limit and the balance is not paid, delinquent accounts appear on your credit report and collection agencies will contact you seeking payment.
  • The identity thief may change your mailing address on your credit card bills and run charges up on your account. Since you wouldn't be receiving statements, it may be a while before you realize the identity theft.

Phone or utilities identity theft:

  • A new land-line phone service or wireless account is opened in your name.
  • Charges may be run up from an existing account.
  • Accounts for utility services like electricity, heating or cable may be opened in your name.

Bank or financial identity theft:

  • Counterfeit checks are created using your name or account number.
  • A bank account may be opened with your name with a number of bad checks written.
  • A cloning of your ATM or debit card so electronic withdrawals drain your account.
  • A loan taken out in your name.

Government documents identity theft:

  • Obtaining a drivers license, passport or official ID issued with your name and information but with the identity thieves picture.
  • Using your name and social security number to obtain government benefits.
  • Fraudulent tax returns with your personal information.

Other identity theft:

  • Using your social security number to gain employment.
  • Rent a house or get medical services with your name leaving you with huge bills.
  • During an arrest, your information is used. When the identity thief doesn't show up for court, a warrant for you arrest is issued.

How to find out if you are a victim of identity theft


Closely monitor your bank accounts, bank, credit card, and other financial statements and check your credit report on a regular basis, checking on a regular basis can limit damages from identity theft.

Here are some indications you are a victim of identity theft:

  • Seeing activity on your credit report such as new lines of credit, loans or credit inquires.
  • Receiving bills or being contacted from collection agencies for charges you didn't create.
  • If there is an address in your name that you don't know about.
  • Being denied for a house or car loan because of unknown credit problems.

What should I do if I experienced identity theft?

  1. Check your credit report and place a fraud alert on your credit report.
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
    • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285;; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
  2. Notify creditors and close fraudulent accounts.
  3. File an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission:
    • Online Complaint Form
    • Or call: FTC Identity Theft Hotline: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261
    • Or write: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580
  4. File a police report for identity theft.
  5. Notify all financial institutions of the identity theft that you have accounts with.
  6. Dispute unauthorized transactions.

For information about what to do if you are a victim of identity theft visit: