Consumer Awareness

Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Learn how to minimize your risk.

Learn how personal information is stolen and what you can do to protect yours, monitor your personal information to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website, www.consumer.gov/idtheft for helpful information.

Monitor your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft. The three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies are: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To order, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

Don't give out personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or account numbers on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves sometimes pretend to be financial institutions or companies to try to get you to reveal your personal information.

  • Be skeptical of email messages or pop-up messages requesting personally identifying information.
  • Protect your purse or wallet at all times, and store personal information in secure locations.
  • Shred bank account, credit card, physician, etc., statements before throwing away to prevent personal information from being accessed.
  • Deposit envelopes in U.S. Postal boxes rather than placing in your personal mail box for pick-up when the contents include checks or personal information.
  • Use meaningful but strong passwords. For example: two blue eyes can be 2bluiis.
  • Don't share account and password information with others and keep it in a safe place.