Identity Theft & Cybersecurity
If someone is using your personal or financial information to make purchases, get benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud, that's considered identity theft. There are many resources available online that discuss identity theft as well as how to protect yourself through cybersecurity such as this one by the Federal Trade Commission, but here are some quick facts.
There are a few common identity theft security risks people often encounter:
- Phishing: people try to lure you to give up personal information, often using excitement or fear to get you to take action
- Social Media scams: these pose as fun quizzes or even funding websites online to try to get your personal information and/or a "donation"
- Data breaches: companies often expose our personal information in data breaches; this can also happen to online accounts or if your wallet has been lost or stolen
Some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from these scams and breaches include:
- Secure online passwords and change them periodically
- Subscribe to suspicious activity alerts
- Install firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware software
- Clear internet properties every night
- Google something if you suspect it may be a scam
- Purchase protection/monitoring service
- Many of these have packages that include services like monitoring, status change alerts, counsel, and identity restoration. There are many such companies out there, so be sure to choose what works best for you.
If you discover you are a victim of identity theft, there are many actions that you might consider:
- Call companies where fraud occurred
- Call local police
- Contact credit bureau
- Contact banks, creditors, IRS, Post Office, Federal Trade Commission
- Change access info, including user names, passwords, and PINs
- Check credit report - free credit reports available at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Contact credit bureau and freeze credit
To learn more about Identity Theft and how you can protect yourself, visit www.IdentityTheft.gov.