American Bank - Education Center
Identity theft involves the misuse of another
individual's personal identifying information for fraudulent purposes.
It is almost always committed to facilitate other crimes, such as credit
card fraud, mortgage fraud, and check fraud. Personal identifying
information, such as name, Social Security number, date of birth and
bank account number is extremely valuable to an identity thief. With
relatively little effort, an identity thief can use this information to
take over existing credit accounts, create new accounts in the victim's
name, or even evade law enforcement after the commission of a violent
crime. Identity thieves also sell personal information online to the
highest bidder, often resulting in the stolen information being used by
a number of different perpetrators. Identity theft can be very difficult
for consumers to deal with, as they often do not know they have been
defrauded until they are denied credit or receive a call from a creditor
seeking payment for a debt incurred in their name.
This page will give you information you can
use to protect your data and what to do if you suspect your personal
information has been stolen.
What is Personally Identifiable
The following lists contain types of information about yourself that you
should take steps to protect.
Moderately Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information
Personally Identifiable Information
Number or Tax Identification Number
Bank or checking
Credit card number
(with or without expiration date and/or the card verification value)
Debit card number
Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords
number or state ID card number
financial information such as salary, tax forms, account balances,
and information about other financial accounts, such as a mortgage,
retirement, or investment account
How to Prevent Identity Theft
Follow these steps to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of
Lock your financial
documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet
or purse in a safe place at work.
Limit what you
carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and
debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home. Make
a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four
digits on the copy. Carry the copy with you - unless you are going
to use your card at the doctor’s office.
credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician
statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and
similar documents when you don’t need them any longer.
Take outgoing mail
to the post office or a post office collection box. Promptly remove
mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several
days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
When you order new
checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a
secure mailbox with a lock.
Make sure you know
who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give
out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the
Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re
Before you dispose
of a computer or any other electronic data storage device, get rid
of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility
program to overwrite the entire device.
Keep your browser
secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software
that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon
on the status bar of your internet browser means your information
will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you
send personal or financial information online.
passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts.
Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Be
creative. Think of a special phrase and use the first letter
of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or
letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become
Don't over share on
social networking sites. If you post too much information
about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your
life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and
get access to your money and personal information. Consider limiting
access to your networking page to a small group of people. Never
post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number,
or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.
Keep a close hold
on your Social Security number and ask questions before deciding to
share it. Ask if you can use a different kind of identification.
policies. They can be long and complex, but they tell you how
the site maintains accuracy, access, security, and control of the
personal information it collects; how it uses the information, and
whether it provides information to third parties. If you don’t see
How to Recognize Identity Theft
Be aware of these symptoms of Identity Theft:
You see withdrawals
from your bank account that you can’t explain.
You don’t get your
bills or other mail.
call you about debts that aren’t yours.
You find unfamiliar
accounts or charges on your credit report. Go to
www.annualcreditreport.com to request a free credit report once
every twelve months.
bill you for services you didn’t use.
Your health plan
rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show
you’ve reached your benefits limit.
A health plan won’t
cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t
The IRS notifies
you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that
you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
You get notice that
your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where
you do business or have an account.
What To Do If Your Identity is
Follow these steps if you detect you are a victim of identity theft:
Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft
Extended Steps to Repair Identity Theft
Keep records of all
calls and written communication regarding the Identity Theft.
Consider placing a
fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit file.
Dispute any errors
in your credit file with the credit reporting company and the fraud
department of each business that reported the error.
Get copies of
documents used by the criminal.
This site is for educational purposes
and is not intended to provide legal advice. For specific advice
about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified
professional. Credits: Federal Trade Commission; Federal Bureau of
Investigation; Homeland Security; National Cyber Security Alliance.