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Identity Theft

Information about identity theft and how to prevent it.

How It Works

Someone gets your personal information and runs up bills in your name. They might use your Social Security or Medicare number, your credit card, or your medical insurance — along with your good name.

How would you know? You could get bills for things you didn’t buy or services you didn’t get. Your bank account might have withdrawals you didn’t make. You might not get bills you expect. Or, you could check your credit report and find accounts you never knew about.

How to Prevent It

  • Protect your information. Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Where would they find your credit card or Social Security number? Protect your personal information by shredding documents before you throw them out, by giving your Social Security number only when you must, and by using strong passwords online.
  • Read your monthly statements and check your credit.When you get your account statements and explanations of benefits, read them for accuracy. You should recognize what’s there. Once a year, get your credit report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com or 1-877-322-8228. The law entitles you to one free report each year from each credit reporting company. If you see something you don’t recognize, you will be able to deal with it.
  • Take steps to protection your identity and credit. Go to ftc.gov/idtheft or Identitytheft.gov/SSA to learn what to do if you have been scammed.

If You Have Been Victimized by Identity Theft

  • File a police report. Some businesses require a police report to remove fraudulent debts from a victim’s account. Filing a report may help you in the future if the someone uses your identity
  • Create an Identity Theft Report and get a personal recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov
  • Freeze your credit report by going to website for each of the 3 big credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion and Equifax) and following the links to freeze your credit
  • Call the three national credit-reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number:
    • Equifax 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian (formerly TRW) 1-800-301-7195
    • Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
    • Social Security Administration fraud line 1-800-269-0271
  • Get more information from free identity theft resources from the FTC.

Learn More

Is someone using your personal information to open new accounts, make purchases or get benefits? Report it at IdentityTheft.gov and get a free personal recovery plan.