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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft!


Protect Yourself From Identity Theft!

Identity theft is a scary topic and is something that most people think will never happen to them. The reality is that identity theft affects approximately 9 million Americans each year and is the fastest growing crime in the U.S. today. The first step in protecting yourself against identity theft is education. Learning more about this topic and the possible red flags that accompany it will arm you with the knowledge to help better identify scams and reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Simply stated, identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your Social Security number, and uses that information to create a new account, make a purchase, or commit other forms of fraud.

6 common ways identity thieves obtain your data:

  1. Data Breaches

    These happen when cyber criminals hack an organization’s data in order to obtain sensitive information, such as full names, social security numbers, and credit card numbers. If you see suspicious activity on any of your accounts, contact the respective company or financial institution immediately.

  2. Malware Activity

    Malware is a software often referred to as a virus, Trojan, or worm, used by thieves to steal your data or spy on your computer activity without you knowing. This software is not only used to steal your personal information, it can also be designed to completely destroy your computer. Malware is generally obtained when you click on a pop up ad or a seemingly safe email. If the security settings in your browser are set to block pop-ups, then you have eliminated one source.

  3. Credit Card Theft

    This is one of the simplest forms of identity theft. A thief can steal your credit card information via credit card skimmers at fuel pumps and ATM machines or online retail accounts where your information is stored. Be vigilant in checking your accounts daily. Be sure to report any suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.

  4. Mail Theft

    Even before the days of the internet, identity thieves found ways to steal personal information and they still practice it today. One common way they achieve this is by combing through mail boxes to find documents containing personal information, specifically credit card statements, or any other document that might contain personal or financial information.

  5. Phishing and Spam Attacks 

    All too often, scammers use email and text messages, as well as other electronic communications, to steal sensitive information. These messages often appear to be sent from a reputable source and usually ask the victim to enter one or more types of personal information. For example, you could receive an email that appears to be from your credit card company, so you click on it. After clicking on it, you probably won’t notice that you are being redirected to a fake website that looks just like your credit card company’s website. Once there, user name and password or credit card information will be required. When this information is provided, fraudsters will have full access to your account. Protect personal information by verifying all emails and texts before clicking on them. Be careful to only share information on secure sites. Also, increase the security settings on your browser so that an alert will appear notifying you of potential red flags if you attempt to connect to an unsafe website.

  6. Wi-Fi Hacking                 

    Using a computer or phone while connected to a public network enables hackers to hack your connection. Once compromised, typing a password, Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information, will place that information in the hands of thieves. Only use secure connections when connecting to the internet.

Use the tips above to help safeguard yourself from identity theft. Remember to report any suspicious activity on your accounts or credit file immediately.

For more information about common identity theft scams and how to recognize them, visit

For a list of steps to perform in the event you become a victim, visit: