Helpful information about what identity theft is, how to help prevent it and protect yourself from it. Designed for readers with limited knowledge. Easy to understand and share with audiences starting at age 13.
By Deb Vosejpka
Identity Theft Basics
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a form of stealing someone's identity in
which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming
that person's identity, usually as a method to gain access to
resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that
person's name. The victim of identity theft (here meaning
the person whose identity has been assumed by the
identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are
held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Identity theft
occurs when someone uses another's personally identifying
information, like their name, identifying number, or credit
card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or
Is Identity Theft Preventable?
Not entirely. There are some precautions we
can take to help minimize the risk (which we’ll
discuss in other presentations), but there are
many circumstances that are not within our
Identity theft can be a result of a random act or
How thieves get your information
Thieves strive to get your information through personal,
commercial, and government means. Let’s start with
commercial and government. To get a better sense of
how thieves acquire your information via data breaches,
visit www.privacyrights.org . Download the
pdf or spreadsheet to view the data breaches
There you’ll find specific events for each data
breach. Your exposed information can be the
result of a hacker, unintended disclosure,
insider theft, stolen equipment , improper
disposal of documents and a plethora of
other electronic methods.
How your data is stolen through
The top 10 scams over the past decade:
Fake Job Offers
Malware and Spyware
Fake Tax Filing
Change of Address
How your personal information is
• Commit crimes in your name
• Acquire medical care
• File tax refunds
• Apply for social security benefits
• Open bank and credit card accounts
• Secure mortgage or car loans
• Start businesses or professional contracts
• Obtain employment
What you may expect when you become a
victim of identity theft!
• Denied employment
• Denied security clearance
• Denied loans or bank accounts
• Denied health care, medicines
• Denied professional licenses or
small business opportunities
• Increased insurance costs
• Increased risk for:
-Harassment from debt collectors
-Arrest for crimes
-Negative credit reporting
• Loss of wages for time off work:
- Contact Collection Agencies
- Contact Employers
- Contact Credit Bureaus/Creditors
- Contact Attorneys
- Contact Investigators
- Contact Government Agencies
- Contact Local Law Enforcement
- Contact Banking Institutions
- Contact Retailers and Businesses
- Contact Post Office
- Contact Education Institutions
…each and every time a theft occurs
• Use strong passwords like iGfcin2009! (I graduated from college in 2009!)
• Open and respond to notifications of data breaches from banks, vendors,
• Safeguard important documents like: social security card, passport,
medical card, gun permit, birth certificate, drivers license, student id.
• Watch for hidden cameras in brochure holders at ATM’s and skimmers at
gas pumps and bank kiosks.
• Watch for URL in websites. All legitimate sites have http(s):// (s = secure).
• Shred or burn documents before discarding them.
• Pick up mail daily. Don’t make it easy for thieves to apply for credit.
• Invest in anti-virus software. Be suspicious of malware and phishing.
• Be alert. Absence of mail, credit denial, charges on statements.
• Don’t do any financial transactions on an open WI-Fi network.
• Frequently monitor bank , credit card and investment accounts.
You could be at great risk if…
• Suddenly you stop receiving mail.
• You get phone calls from collectors regarding debts
that are not yours.
• Your bank accounts have been compromised.
• You’ve been locked out of your online accounts or
• Your automatic deposits are missing.
• You receive mail for matters not initiated by you.
• You are arrested for criminal acts you did not
How to protect yourself and help others!
• Stay alert!
• Stay informed, write to receive helpful tips,
resources, and solutions.
• Become an advocate and share your knowledge.
• Get protection.