Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes in your name. Identity thieves may go through your mail or trash to obtain your information, or attempt to access it through e-mail, text messages or phone conversations.
Many Americans have their identity stolen every day. Follow the guidelines below and help protect yourself, your good name and your good credit.
Sign up for identity theft protection
An identity theft protection program monitors your credit reports, online debit/credit card number(s) and Social Security number. If suspicious activity is detected, you will be notified and will receive identity recovery assistance.
Monitor your mail
Call the sender (e.g., your utility company, your bank, etc.) if mail fails to arrive. A false change-of-address form may have been filed to divert your information to another address. Use a secure mailbox for outgoing mail.
Review bills and bank statements
Check for fraudulent charges or suspicious activity. Report issues immediately. Consider receiving statements and bills electronically, setting up direct deposits and using online bill pay.
Check your credit reports
At least annually, review your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports for unauthorized activity and incorrect information.* Report issues immediately.
Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy envelopes and documents.
Be on guard with phone solicitors
Never provide personal or financial information to callers you do not know.
Secure your computer(s) and mobile devices
Whether a desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet or smartphone, your computer contains critical personal information. To help protect your electronic devices, you should also: