Office of Public Safety

Identity Theft

Identity Theft occurs when someone uses your personal information and uses it without your permission.  The results can be devestating to you personally and financially.  Recovering from a case of Identity Theft takes a lot of time, money and patience.  

Identity Thieves Might:

  • Steal your wallet, purse, backpack or mail and remove your credit cards, drivers license, health insurance cards and other items with personal information.
  • Pretend to offer a job, apartment or loan and ask you to send personal information to "qualify".
  • Work for businesses, medical offices, telemarketers or government agenices and steal personal information on the job.
  • Go through trash cans, dumpsters or mailboxes looking for bills and documents with personal information on them.

Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, or get medical treatment on your insurance.  An identity thief might even file a tax return in your name and get a refund. If you suspect someone has stolen your identity, acting quickly is the best way to limit the damage.

To Help Prevent Identity Theft:

  • Protect your Social Security number.  Don't carry your social security card in your wallet or write it on your checks.  Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, over the internet or through the mail unless you absolutely know who you are dealing with.
  • Never click on links in unsolicited emails.
  • Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates. 
  • Encrypt personal information on your laptop.
  • Don't use an obvious password like your date of birth, mother's maiden name or last four digits of your Social Security number.
  • Vary passwords between accounts and avoid saving passwords or PIN numbers online, on computers or phones.
  • Never over-share personal details on social media, such as full address, social security number or date of birth.
  • Shred documents that contain personal information before you throw them away.
  • If you shop or bank online always use sites that protect your information.  A encrypted site has "https" at the beginning of the web address- the "s" is for secure.
  • Check your credit reports.  You can obtain a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide reporting companies- Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

For more information you can visit: www.ftc.gov/idtheft