Identity Fraud Myths & PreventionMYTH: ID Theft only happens to others.MYTH: Criminals don’t know victims personally.MYTH: Most ID Theft occurs online.MYTH: Protecting Social Security # is enough.So, how can you effectively protectyourself?1. Never carry checkbooks around2. Monitor your credit regularly.3. Change your passwords routinely.4. Shred sensitive documents.5. Use anti-virus software.
Identity Theft: By the Numbers• 1 in 1.43 (70% of) U.S. ADULTS use the internet regularly. That’s 175 million people.• 1 in 1.45 (69% of) U.S. ADULTS make purchases online.• 1 in 18.22 (5.5% of) HOUSEHOLDS experience an identity theft.• 1 in 5.56 (18% of) I.D THEFT VICTIMS suffer long- term problems, usually due to multiple incidents of fraud, not caught until it’s too late.• 1 in 21.28 (4.7% of) I.D. THEFT VICTIMS lose $5000 or more due to the theft.• 270,000 I.D. THEFTS REPORTED to the Federal Trade Commission last year alone.
Taxes & Identity:How to File One and Protect the Other1. ONLINE SECURITY: Before filing returns online, make sure the address starts with “https.” The ‘s’ at the end of ‘http’ means secure server, which encrypts personal information.2. AVOID EMAIL & FILE SHARING: Never email copies of returns to anyone, even the IRS. Also, avoid using file sharing sites to send returns. 3. MAIL SECURELY: When submitting returns via snail mail, don’t put them in a personal mailbox with the flag up— you’re signaling thieves there’s information for the taking. Mail from a post office location.
5 Reasons to Stop Fearing Your Credit ReportMany avoid credit reports because they fear what’s there. Don’t panic! Here’s why:• It’s usually not that bad. Many things you may be worried about might not have even been reported to the bureaus. Get over your fear and take a look!• Self credit checks don’t hurt. Many still think pulling their own report hurts their score. Not so!• Mistakes are common. Maybe you’ve made some mistakes—but odds are, so have the bureaus!• Bad credit will only get worse. Stop credit score hemorrhaging by knowing what to work on.• Credit improvement isn’t that hard. Maybe you are in bad credit shape. Get to work fixing it!
4 Things to Look for on Your Credit ReportLook for these red flags on your credit reports:1. Personal info that’s wrong. Is your name right? Address correct? Mix-ups happen, and that can mean trouble for your scores.2. Public records inaccuracies. Judgments, bankruptcies, and liens stay on reports for a fixed amount of time. If they stay too long, they can hurt.3. Unfamiliar accounts/activity. See accounts you don’t recognize or you closed? Red flag! Someone could be using them without your knowledge.4. Lingering inquiries. Credit inquiries from new credit lines, insurance companies, and employers should tick off reports after two years.
10 Quick Ways to Stop ID Theft Cold1. Be alert; shield your PIN# from sight2. Don’t carry your Social Security card3. Send/receive sensitive mail from Post Offices4. Review all financial statements carefully5. Shred all unwanted personal documents6. Review credit reports regularly7. Rarely (if ever) give personal information out over the phone8. Don’t carry more credit cards than you need9. Use a filing system so you know where important information is at all times10. Use caution when making purchases online
3 Common Scams to AvoidAUTO SCAMSBeware of these red flags: • Out-of-state vehicles • Dealers requiring that you wire them money • Prices that seem “too good to be true”ONLINE SCAMSBeware of: • Phishing” sites that look like your bank’s • Emails asking you to update information • Requests to reply to, or downloading things from, unsolicited emails. Call the company’s official, direct phone number if you’re suspicious)PHONE SCAMSIf someone calls, threatens legal action, or claims to be law enforcement: • Place fraud alerts on cards and credit reports • Report the matter to your local police department
10 Ways to Protect Your HomeBurglars don’t just steal valuables, heirlooms and property - they can also stealyour identity.1. Get a home security system2. Secure all windows and other openings3. Keep property well-lit4. Keep a tidy yard and deny thieves hiding places5. Don’t show off empty boxes from new purchases in the trash!6. Protect your identity; keep info in lockboxes, shred unwanted documents7. Burglars like unoccupied homes; make your house seem ‘lived In’ with lights on timers, etc.8. Make friends with trusted neighbors9. Keep inventory of valuables, in case of burglary10. ‘Think like a thief’—examine home’s vulnerability
10 Steps to Fight Identity Theft1. File a police report or affidavit stating your ID has been stolen or compromised2. Obtain copies of your 3 credit reports3. Make studious notes of suspicious activity4. File disputes on suspect items with each bureau5. Follow-up with each credit bureau6. Notify bureaus—in writing—and request a fraud alert be placed on your credit7. Put a freeze on your credit, denying unauthorized access8. Contact the Federal Trade Commission and insist fraudulent accounts be closed9. If thieves opened new cards, contact issuers and insist they be closed10. Notify bill collectors of pending fraud situation
7 Ways to Respond to Identity Theft1.Place a fraud alert on your credit reports2.File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission3.File a police report or sworn affidavit4.Contact and notify banks and creditors5.Keep good records and make an ID Theft file, documenting the process6.Contact the post office in case of stolen mail7.Notify the Social Security Administration about the identity theft
5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime1. Don’t save credit card information online. Use sophisticated passwords and don’t save credit card numbers on online store accounts.2. Keep credit card numbers and PINs to yourself. Never write PIN #s on credit cards!3. Beware of Wi-fi networks. Be sure to change the password on your wireless router.4. Be careful what you post on social media. This is pretty self- explanatory. Play it safe.5. Make sure you’re protected at work. Having a separate computer workstation for financial interactions and processing is a good idea.
Fraud Alerts vs. Credit FreezesIf you suspect you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you can requesta credit freeze from the credit bureaus to essentially seal your creditreport. This makes credit reports inaccessible, unless you give specificauthorization.With a fraud alert, a notice is placed on your credit file requestingcreditors verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. This usuallyinvolves a phone call.It typically costs $3 to $10 to freeze your credit report. However, if you’vebeen a victim of identity theft, you may be able to freeze at no cost. Thecosts vary by state.How do I lift the freeze when needed?A temporary lift can be used when you need a third party to access yourcredit, typically lasting 7, 15, or 30 days. A permanent lift means youwant your credit information to be available for third parties without timerestrictions.
7 Tips to Protect Credit at Holidays1. Check credit report before the holidays.2. Resist retail credit card offers at checkout.3. Keep your credit usage low; know your limits!4. Check your interest rates before you shop.5. Remain vigilant against identity theft.6. Don’t get distracted and fail to keep up with your bill- paying duties!7. As always, spend only what you can actually afford.