The User Level: Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a person unlawfully obtains and uses the identity of another person to commit a fraud, theft or deception. By wrongfully acquiring another’s personal data such as Social Security Number, mother’s maiden name, bank account number or credit card number, identity thieves can perform many acts, most commonly opening bank or credit card accounts in the victim’s name. Identity thieves are both creative and bold . . . they have even secured auto loans in the victim’s name.

Here are a few ways to help prevent your identity from being compromised:

  • Always shred bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, insurance claim or payment forms, and other financial documents and credit reports before throwing them away.
  • Regularly review your bank, credit card, and phone statements for accuracy.
  • Be wary of anyone calling to “confirm” personal information. Ask to call them back at their legitimate telephone number.
  • Reduce the number of credit cards you carry. Keep good records of all your credit cards and the phone numbers to call in the event you lose one. Sign your new credit cards – before someone else does!
  • Write “Always check ID” in black marker on the back of your credit card. This encourages retail clerks to ask for your ID any time that credit card is used, and may deter a potential thief from using the card.
  • Do not provide credit card information over the telephone.


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