Learn what identity theft is and steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you.
Imagine getting a $7,000 phone bill for a cell phone you don't own. Or receiving heat and electric bills for an apartment where you don't live. That's what happened to Emily Jensen (not her real name). In both instances the products and services were purchased under her name and Social Security number. Emily was a victim of identity theft.
It's not really difficult to steal another's identity. Thieves get information by stealing your wallet or purse, pilfering from your mail box, going through your trash, watching your transactions at automated teller machines, or posing as an employer or landlord to get your credit report.
Take care with your personal information; follow these simple steps to ensure your identity remains yours.
Don't carry your Social Security card, passport, or birth certificate in your wallet. Keep them in a safe place at home. Furthermore, don't give your credit card or Social Security information over the phone unless you initiate the call and know to whom you are talking. Also give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask if you may use other forms of identification.
Keep documents with personal information safe, including credit card and debit card receipts. Shred them when you dispose of them. Also, before you reveal personal information, find out how it will be used and shared with others.
Reduce the number of credit cards you carry. Keep an emergency phone list of credit card companies to contact in case your credit cards are lost or stolen.
Open and read all financial statements and bills (by mail or eStatement) as soon as you get them. Look at transaction activity. If you see any you did not make, notify the financial institution or biller in writing. You can notify DCU through Account Manager in Online Banking. Email and forms sent to us behind the security of your Online Banking login carry the weight of a signed document.
Order your credit reports and check for fraudulent activity at least once a year. You can order an annual free credit report from each of the credit bureaus from annualcreditreport.com. DCU also offers FICO Credit Services within Online Banking.
If you are the victim of identity theft, call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-ID-THEFT. Log on to the FTC identity theft web site to learn more about this crime and how to prevent it.