Identity theft has become an unfortunate new reality in the digital world. A few common sense steps can help prevent identity theft and minimize the damage in the event you become a victim.
- Be skeptical. If anyone requests your personal information, ask why. Never provide personal information to anyone you do not know. If you are uncomfortable providing personal information over the phone, hang up or get a contact number and call back to verify. The IRS does not contact individuals by phone or by email. If you receive a threatening call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or any other governmental agency, hang up immediately. If you are contacted by email, do NOT click through any links and immediately delete the email. (If you receive the email at work, forward it to your IT department for blacklisting).
- Review credit card statements, bank statements and credit reports carefully and regularly. New credit lines your name or social security number will be reported on a credit report. If you believe you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the credit rating agencies to immediate place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Shred/destroy any documents that contain personal information. Close any accounts opened in your name and report fraudulent charges to your credit card company.
- Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with your local police department.
If you have questions about identify theft or believe you may be a victim, visit IdentityTheft.gov.