Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud. They may use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services, which can damage your credit rating, and cost you time and money to restore your good name.
Children and seniors are both vulnerable to ID theft. Child ID theft may go undetected for many years until victims apply for their own loans. Seniors are vulnerable because they share their personal information often with doctors and caregivers. The number of people and offices that access their information puts them at risk.
10 Tips for Added Protection
- Secure your Social Security number (SSN). Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet and only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Don’t share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number) just because someone asks for it.
- Collect your mail every day and place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days. Here’s where you can see if you are eligible to place a hold on your mail with the USPS.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Review your credit card and bank account statements for unauthorized transactions.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
- Be very cautious about using a public Wi-Fi network and install firewalls and virus-detection software on your computer.
- Create complex passwords that difficult to guess. Change your passwords frequently. Here’s a website that will help you create complex passwords that are difficult to crack or guess.
- Review your credit reports once a year for fraudulent or inaccurate information. You can order your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Freeze your credit files. Credit freezes prevent someone from applying for and getting approval for credit in your name. Check out these FAQs from the Federal Trade Commission on credit freezes.
If despite your best efforts, you still become a victim of identity theft, we encourage you to report this online to the Federal Trade Commission or by calling 1-877-438-4338. If you report identity theft online, you will receive an identity theft report and a recovery plan.
Please contact us at Members Trust, as well. We are happy to help and recommend your next steps.