Identity Theft: Some helpful resources
To learn what to do if you think your identity has been stolen, go online to this FTC (Federal Trade Commission) site: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft
For important information regarding protection of your privacy and identity, click on the following link to the
Federal Trade Commission website: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/privacy-identity
FTC, along with a group of credit grantors and consumer advocates, has
developed a form you can fill out, called an ID Theft Affidavit, to
make it easier to report fraud information. This form is especially
useful if fraudulent accounts have already been opened in your name.
You can download a pdf file of the form at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pdf
For information on identity theft, phishing, and other online scams, visit http://www.onguardonline.gov.
Financial Fraud and Theft: How to Protect Yourself*
big concern today is identity theft or "ID theft," which occurs when an
individual learns someone's Social Security number (SSN), bank account
information or other details that can be used to go on a buying or
borrowing binge. While law enforcement agencies, financial industry
regulators, financial institutions and other organizations are working
together to prevent ID theft and other financial crimes, consumers need
to take precautions.
your Social Security number, bank account and credit card numbers, PINs
(personal identification numbers), passwords and other personal
information. Never provide this information in response to a
phone call, a fax, a letter or an e-mail you've received — no matter
how friendly or official the circumstances may appear.
especially careful with your SSN. Don't provide it to any business
unless you're convinced it's necessary and the information will be
Also be aware that
friends, family members, roommates and workers who come into homes make
up a large percentage of identity thieves. They often are in the best
position to find and use confidential information.
Guard your mail,
which may include a credit card or bank statement, an envelope
containing a check, documents showing confidential information, or
other items that a thief can steal from a mailbox.
to use a locked mailbox or other secure location for your incoming
mail. Pick up your mail as soon as possible. And for outgoing mail
containing a check or personal information, put it in a blue Postal
Service mailbox, hand it to a mail carrier or take it to the post
office instead of leaving it in your doorway or home mailbox.
Keep your financial trash "clean." Don't throw away old ATM or credit card receipts, bank statements, tax
returns or other documents containing personal information without
shredding them first. ID thieves pick through trash bins looking for
trash they can turn into cash.
Use extra care with personal information on a computer or over the Internet. Never provide bank, credit card or other sensitive information when
visiting a Web site that doesn't explain how your personal information
would be protected, including its use of "encryption" to safely
transmit and store data.
Be on guard
against incoming e-mails claiming to be from a trusted source — perhaps
a bank, another company you know or even a government agency — asking
you to "update" or "confirm" personal information. "Reputable
organizations won't contact you to verify account information online
because they already have it," said Sandra Thompson, a Deputy Director
of the FDIC's Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection.
you get one of those fraudulent e-mails (they're called "phishing"
scams), don't click on any links or attachments because doing so could
activate some types of spyware or viruses.
other precautions with your personal computer. Examples: Install a free
or low-cost "firewall" to stop intruders from gaining remote access to
your PC. Download and frequently update security "patches" offered by
your operating system and software vendors to correct weaknesses that a
hacker might exploit. Use software that detects and blocks "spyware,"
which can record your keystrokes to obtain your credit card number and
other personal information.
selling, donating or disposing of an old personal computer, use special
software to completely erase files that contain financial records, tax
returns and other personal information. "If you use someone else's
computer, such as a computer provided by your school, do not put your
Social Security number or other personal information onto the
computer," added Thompson. "Even if you go back and delete what you
typed in, your personal information will remain on the computer's
hard-drive and may be retrieved by an identity thief."
Beware of offers that seem too good to be true. Con artists often pose as charities or business people offering jobs,
rewards or other "opportunities." They hope that trusting souls will
send cash or checks, provide SSNs or credit card numbers, or wire money
from a bank account.
suspicious of any offer that involves "easy money" or "quick fixes." Be
careful if you're being pressured to make a quick decision and you're
asked to send money or provide bank account information before you
receive anything in return. Also beware of any transaction for which
you receive a cashier's check made out for more money than the amount
due to you with a request to wire back the difference — you could lose
a lot of money if the check is fraudulent.
To learn more about Internet security, go to our brochure: You Can Fight Identity Theft http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/fighttheft/index.html
*Source: FDIC Consumer News (Spring 2005)