Identity theft occurs when someone gets and uses your personal identifying information without your permission. The personal information they could use includes your:
- date of birth
- mother’s maiden name
- social security number
- bank account, credit card and other account numbers
Identity thieves might use this information to:
- open accounts (bank, credit card and other loans) in your name
- drain your bank account
- set up a telephone service that will be billed to you
- make major purchases (real estate, automobiles and more) that will be billed to you
Identity theft can damage your credit rating, causing you to be denied credit and job offers.
Do not give out any of your personal information to anyone who calls you. Your banks and credit card companies will not ever ask you to give your personal information over the phone. Your own banks and lenders already know about you.
If someone asks you for your social security number, hang up the phone. If someone asks about your credit cards, hang up the phone. Never let anyone into your home uninvited.
If someone calls you, hang up right away if you do not know the caller. To stop unwanted calls, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit the web address www.donotcall.gov .
If someone calls or visits you, and says they are from the Social Security Administration, or Medicare, do not talk to them. The Social Security Administration and Medicare do not make calls or visits. Also, Medicare prescription drug plans are not allowed to ask for your bank account number.
Shred all personal documents before placing them in the trash or recycle bin, such as:
- credit card receipts
- credit card statements
- pre-approved credit offers
- bank statements
- medical statements
Take the mail from your mailbox as soon as you can. Place all outgoing mail in a collection box or install a locking mailbox.
Learn how to use the internet safely to protect yourself and to avoid identity theft by visiting National Consumers League's Fraud Center.
Keep personal information at home and at work in a safe place.
Do not carry the following items with you except when absolutely necessary:
- extra credit cards
- birth certificate
- social security card
- other cards containing your social security number
Know what personal items you carry with you. Make a list of account numbers. Know where to call if your information is lost or stolen. Keep that list in a place where only you can find it.
Once a year, get a copy of your free credit reports. Get it from all three credit bureaus listed below.
Create unique passwords and personal identification numbers (PINS).
Do not put your social security number, credit card number or phone number on your checks.
Do not put your social security number on your driver’s license.
Do not use a cell phone when giving out your personal information.
- Contact your bank or other financial institution, by phone and in writing, asking them to put a “fraud alert” on all of your accounts.
- Contact all three of the following credit bureaus, by phone and in writing, asking them to put a “fraud alert” on your accounts:
- File a police report.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission, the Social Security Administration or the Office of the Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) , the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
- File a report and/or get an “Identity Theft Passport” (an official document stating that you are a victim of identity theft) at The Office of the Virginia Attorney General.
- You may have to pay legal fees to regain your identity.
- You may have to repay any debts the identity thieves may have incurred in your name.
- Your local sheriff's office (listed under VA County Agency Links)
- The TRIAD Program Website
- Your local Area Agency on Aging
- Virginia Division for the Aging (or call toll free 1- 800-552-3402)
- National Consumers League's Fraud Center (or call toll free at 1-800-876-7060)