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What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is when a scammer steals your personal information to commit fraud. Scammers may use your personal information to steal financial assets, apply for credit, file taxes or receive medical services, among other forms of impersonation.

One method for stealing your information is called phishing attacks. Scammers try to steal your personal and sensitive information by sending fake emails, text messages, and phone calls to bait you into engaging.

Scammers are getting more difficult to spot every day. You can recognize phishing attacks by carefully examining website addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers for inconsistencies (e.g., missing letters or numbers, .com vs .gov). Phishing attacks are often non-personalized messages that contain urgent requests to update your billing information or verify your account information. 

If you do engage with these messages, scammers can access your information to make unwanted withdrawals from your bank account, or submit loan or credit card applications in your name without you knowing about it. Identity theft can lower your credit score and cost you money.

5 Steps to help protect your identity
1

Carefully review all messages for inconsistencies such as typos in the message as well as the address of the sender – Legitimate example: BankofAmerica.com, Scammer example: BankoAmerica.com

2

Limit who you share your personal information with (e.g., birthdate, Social Security number, or bank information)

3

Create passwords that are difficult to guess and do not use the same password for everything

4

Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for unexpected charges

5

Review your credit report at least once a year

What to do if you are a victim of identity theft?
  1. Contact the companies where you believe the fraud occurred,
  2. Place a fraud alert with one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and get your credit report, 
  3. File a report with the local police department,  
  4. Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone 1-877-438-4338
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