Online Safety – Identity Theft
What is identity theft?
Identity theft or identity fraud is when someone steals:
- your name
- your personal information
- your financial information
- any other information that is specific to you as an individual
Different types of Identity Theft
- Credit identity theft
- When a criminal uses your personal information, such as your birthday or social security number, and uses that information to apply for credit
- Child identity theft
- Criminals steal a child’s identity and apply for credit in that child’s name. Often it is not discovered until way after when the child tries to apply for credit in the future
- Taxpayer identity theft
- Using a social security number to file a tax return and stealing someone’s tax refund or tax credit
- Medical identity theft
- Using someone else's identity to get health care services
- Account takeover
- When you have lost access to your financial accounts because someone has used your personal data and changed the passwords
- Criminal identity theft
- Occurs when someone gives law authorities someone else’s name and address during an arrest or investigation (often done with false identification, such as a fake driver’s license)
How can I avoid being a victim of identity theft?
Before giving out personal information ask yourself:
- Who is asking for my details?
- What details are they asking for?
- Why do they need to know these details?
- Have they verified who they say they are?
- Would the person they claim to be request that information?
- Have I shredded/destroyed any personal or financial information, including receipts?
Ways that you can prevent identity theft:
- Freeze your credit right away
- Keep your social security safe and do not give it away
- Be alert to phishing and spoofing (often done through email scams)
- Use strong passwords and add extra authentication and security steps
- Use alerts (financial institutions will send alerts when transactions are made)
- Carefully monitor your mailbox and what you click or allow
- Shred all important documents
- Use a digital wallet to prevent loss or stolen physical wallets
- Check your credit reports regularly and monitor your financial and medical statements
If you have any suspicions, don’t give out your details until you’ve checked everything out. If you suspect anyone is committing identity fraud, please complete our online anonymous form . If you are a victim of identity theft, it is best to contact the police directly.