Your identity is one of the most valuable things you own.
It’s important to keep your identity from being stolen by someone who can potentially harm your good name and financial well-being. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, Social Security Number, credit card or financial account numbers, passwords, and other personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes.
While the words may sound like a foreign language-- Phishing, Pharming, Vishing, Spyware, Dumpster Diving — they are actually techniques used by thieves to put your identity and finances at risk. And their attacks grow more frequent and sophisticated every year.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States. According to US Department of Justice statistics, it’s now passing drug trafficking as the number one crime in America.
The simple fact is you can protect yourself against most forms of identity theft. The first step is education. To make it easier to understand, we’ve divided identity theft into the “Danger Zones.” Take a few moments to learn about each of the Danger Zones and the steps you can take to avoid being a victim.
Phishing is an email scam used to steal your personal information. Email similar to the one pictured may appear in your inbox, claiming to be from your financial institution, credit card company, or another source. It may appear authentic, but be careful - any email requesting personal information or to “verify” account information is usually a scam. Do not respond to this and do not click on any link from this email.
These are clear signs that someone is “Phishing” for your information.
Remember, email is not a secure form of communication. So feel free to use your email, but don’t use it to send or receive confidential information. And if you follow the four basic steps listed, you can protect yourself from most phishing and other email scams.
The Internet is a great place to browse and do business. But it can also be a Danger Zone for identity theft if you don’t know what to watch for or how to protect yourself.
There are several types of malware –which means malicious software – that can infect your computer as you surf the web including:
These programs are becoming more sophisticated and ingenious in their ability to infect your computer. Many are designed to steal your personal information.
Follow these steps to protect your computer from the majority of Internet crime:
Following these steps will help protect you from the most common forms of identity theft while surfing the Internet.
The telephone is one of the most often used sources for criminal activity. Here’s how it works. Your phone rings. The caller claims to be from your financial institution, or any other source. They begin asking questions about you and your account. This could be a telephone scam called Vishing. Someone is attempting to steal your identity, and it happens to millions of Americans every year.
Follow these steps to protect yourself from most types of identity theft telephone scams:
As a general guideline, be highly suspicious anytime you are requested to provide personal information over the phone.
Payment fraud happens when someone uses information from your checks, credit and debit cards, or any other form of payment without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. But this, and other forms of identity theft, can be avoided, if you know how to protect yourself.
Don’t make it easy for criminals to steal your personal information. Here are some common sense tips to protect your identity:
Reducing your risk of identity theft starts with protecting your personal information. Keep it from getting into the wrong hands. Always be diligent about protecting your identity.
The simple act of sending and receiving mail, and putting your trash out at night, can put your personal information at risk. Financial information, checks, account and credit card statements, and monthly bills can be stolen from your home, mailbox or even from your trash, and used to access your accounts and steal your identity.
Follow these steps to protect against identity theft in your home:
By following these steps you are on the right track to protecting your identity. Learning about all the identity theft danger zones and the simple steps you can take to avoid being a victim, is the best way to protect your good name.