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What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft affects more than 8 million US households annually. Identity theft is defined as the unauthorized use or attempted misuse of an existing credit card or other existing account, the misuse of personal information to open a new account or for another fraudulent purpose, or a combination of these types of misuse.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, debit card number or online banking credentials, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
How do thieves steal an identity?
There are a variety of ways for identity thieves to get your information. Some of these are:
- Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal personal information.
- Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements by completing a change of address form.
- Old-Fashioned Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail; new checks; pre-approved credit card offers; and personnel records.
- Social Engineering. They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies and other sources.
What to do?
Consumers should monitor their accounts and bank statements each month, and check their credit reports on a regular basis. Any lost debit/credit cards, checks, bank statements or internet banking login credentials should be reported to the consumer's bank immediately.
More information is also available at the Illinois Attorney General's Identity Theft Hotline: website - www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/hotline.html; telephone number - (866) 999-5630.
Internet crime schemes steal millions from victims each year. Following are examples of internet schemes and some preventative measures:
- Before you bid, contact the seller with any questions you have.
- Review the seller's feedback.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside your own country.
- Be cautious of unsolicited offers.
Debit/Credit Card Fraud:
- Ensure a site is secure and reputable before providing your card number online.e
- If purchasing merchandise, ensure it is from a reputable source.
- Do your research to ensure legitimacy of the individual or company.
- Beware of providing credit card information when requested through unsolicited emails.
- Be suspicious of any unsolicited email requesting personal information
- Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal information.
- Always compare the link in the email to the link that you are actually directed to.
- Log on to the official website, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited email.
- Be cautious if you are asked to ship packages to an “overseas home office.”
- Never provide your personal information to strangers in a chat room.
- Don't accept packages that you didn't order.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
- Don't open spam. Delete it unread.
- Never purchase anything advertised through an unsolicited email.
ATM and Card Usage Tips
- Always protect your debit/ATM card and PIN.
- Do not loan your card to anyone.
- Do not tell anyone your PIN or write your PIN where it may be discovered. Never keep your PIN with your card.
- Block the view of others when entering your PIN. Save your receipt – do not leave it at the ATM or terminal.
- Always observe your surroundings when making a transaction.
- Review your account statement and verify all card transactions.
- Destroy any unused cards.
- If your card is lost or stolen, report it to us promptly.