Identity theft occurs when personal information (like Social Security numbers) is stolen to obtain goods, services or open fraudulent accounts. Victims are left with poor credit and the complicated task of restoring it.
- In the United States someone has their identity stolen every four seconds.
- Victims spend an average of 600 hours in paperwork and other activities to clear their name after identity theft.
- On average, it costs $8,000 to recover from identity theft.
Reduce your risk
- Be very cautious about giving personal or financial information to anyone.
- Never provide personal identifying or financial information over the phone when you did not initiate the call. Legitimate companies and organizations do not call to "verify" account numbers or to ask for other personal information.
- Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary. Never carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet.
- Update your computer security software regularly.
- Select passwords and personal identification numbers that will be difficult for someone else to figure out. For example, don't use your birth date or home address.
- Review bank account statements and credit card bills. Immediately report discrepancies.
- Never e-mail personal or financial information.
- If your credit or debit card has expired, shred it before throwing away.
- If your ATM card has been stolen or compromised, get a new card, account number and password.
- If your identity has been stolen, see the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website for information and guidance.
- Check your credit report at least once a year. The three consumer credit reporting companies, Experian, Trans Union or Equifax must provide a free credit report once every 12 months.
- Visit credit report reviews for a listing of credit reporting companies and corresponding reviews of same.
- Visit Secure IT @ NU for more information on how to protect your identity and keep your computer safe from viruses.