Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources, including stealing your wallet, rifling through your trash, or by compromising your credit or bank information. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and ask you for the information.

The best advice to help reduce this risk is to deter, detect and defend:

DETER: Safeguard your information

    • Shred, preferably cross-cut shred, financial documents before discarding them;
    • Protect your Social Security number;
    • Only give out information to people you know;
    • Don’t use obvious passwords; and
    • Keep your personal information secure.

DETECT: Routinely monitor your financial statements and all transactions

    • Be alert for mail or normal bills that do not arrive in the mail;
    • Beware of any denials of credit;
    • Inspect your credit report annually by requesting one free report;
      1. Nationwide credit reporting agencies
      2. www.AnnualCreditReport.com
      3. Telephone Number: 877-322-8228
      4. Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281,Atlanta, A 30348-5281
    • Frequently inspect your financial statements and look for any transactions or changes you did not make.

DEFEND: If your identity is stolen

    • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports;
    • Close the accounts you know or believe have been tampered with;
    • File a report with your local police; and
    • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

The sources of information about you are so numerous that you sometimes cannot prevent the theft of your identity but you can minimize the risk by following some simple practices:

  • Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements; always shred.
  • Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
  • Reconcile your bank account monthly, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
  • Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
  • Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company and the police as soon as you detect them.
  • Review a copy of your credit reports (most markets have access to three separate credit reporting agencies) at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
  • If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureaus to print a statement to that effect in your credit report. You should request each credit bureau serving your market area to include the statement.

If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities                            

Pocket Cents for Kids!


The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) launched a new, free and fun site for youth called Pocket Cents. The site introduces young people to the benefits of Credit Unions and the importance of setting financial goals. Also included are fun facts about money- how it is made, why it is used, and educational information about foreign currency. Remember...the site is geared for kids, but adults can learn some new things too!

On the Home Page of the NCUA's free consumer web site, MyCreditUnion.gov, Pocket Cents provides access to information designed to teach positive financial habits in youth. Check out the NCUA's Pocket Cents at
http://mycreditunion.gov/pocketcents or click the above graphic!




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