“Identity theft” explains it clearly; theft of ones identity. Under Federal law, identity theft is defined as when a person “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.” 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7)
Here is some information on how you can help prevent identity theft.
Are you a victim of Identity Theft?
Many people are naive when it comes down to the subject of identity theft. You may be a victim of identity theft, and sadly to say, not realize it. One of the most common methods of identity theft is stolen credit cards and impermissible usage of bank accounts.
Pay attention to monthly bank account statements and credit card statements. Always keep a record of your deposits and withdrawals. This way, you will be able to have reference and compare it to your statements. Evaluate every transaction carefully, to insure no inaccuracies and unfamiliar charges and/or withdrawals.
How does Identity Theft occur?
There are many ways a person can commit identity theft. Such ways include:
- By means of the internet. These people are commonly referred to as hackers. They can “hack” into your computer and view confidential information you submit online. Always be aware of purchasing items and disclosing your personal information to websites. Be sure to verify the websites reputation before submitting personal information. Also, make sure that all credit card purchases are secure.
- Identity thieves will go through your mail and steal mail containing confidential information. You can contact senders and request for confidential information, such as account number, social security number and birth date not to be included in correspondence. You may also have your mail sent to a Post Office Box.
- Identity thieves will perpetrate as legitimate business or credit card agencies requesting your personal information, either by phone, email or mail.
- Most commonly, identity thieves will steal your credit card or checks out of a lost wallet or purse. If this is to happen, make sure to immediately report your credit card and checks lost or stolen.
What can you do to prevent Identity Theft?
There are many ways to help prevent identity theft. Such as:
- Never keep pin numbers in your purse or wallet.
- Be aware of submitting personal information and credit card information online.
- Never throw confidential information into your garbage can. A better method is to shred documents or save the documents until you are able to shred documents.
- Never give out your personal information over the phone. Request for credit card offers and business correspondence to be sent through the mail. This way you will be able to verify legitimacy of the company and verification of a return address.
- Use a Post Office Box or a Personal Mail Box, instead of your residential mailbox.
- Monitor your credit report regularly.
- Monitor your credit card and bank account statements monthly.
Reporting Identity Theft
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft:
- Notify your local police department immediately.
- Notify all three credit bureaus.
- Notify your bank.
- Contact all of your creditors and inform each company of the situation.