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Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Identity Theft occurs when someone uses your personal personal information (Ex. Name, Social Security Number, Credit Card Number, Etc.) to commit some kind of fraud. Many victims do not even realize their identity has been stolen until they get phone calls from creditors, unusual charges on their credit card statements or, worse yet, realize their is a warrant out for their arrest for a crime they did not commit! There are things you can do to help:
Protect Your Identity
- Only give out personal information when you know who you are dealing with and how the information will be used. NEVER give out this information to someone over the phone or via e-mail if you have not initiated the conversation.
- Protect your Social Security Number. Only give your SSN if it is absolutely necessary. (Opening Accounts, Employers, Loan Applications, etc.) Don't put your SSN on your driver's license or checks. Don't use it over the phone or as general identification purposes.
- Always keep items with personal information in a safe place and shred with a cross-cut shredder when you no longer need.
- Order a free copy of your credit report once a year. Request a copy at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. Verify the accuracy of your credit report.
If you have you have become a victim of Identity Theft, report immediately. Contact all financial instituions you have relationships with. Cancel all your credit cards. Contact the your local law enforcement agency.
For more information on Identity Theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Site.