NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Stopping Identify Thefts

Stopping Identity Thefts

 

          Identity thieves are an unfortunate reality in our society. The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft tops the list at 37% of complaints and that 13% percent of the adult population has been victims of fraud.

 An identity thief obtains some piece of your sensitive information and uses it, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or theft against you. Identity theft is a serious crime. Victims have lost job opportunities; been refused loans for education, housing or cars; or even been arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.  

Skilled thieves gain access to your personal information by:

 - Getting information from businesses or other institutions

 - Stealing records from their employer,

. Bribing an employee who has access to these records, or

. Hacking into the organization’s computers.

- Rummaging through your trash, or the trash of businesses or dumps.

- Obtaining credit reports by abusing their employer’s authorized access to credit reports or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to the information.

          - Stealing credit and debit card numbers as your card is processed by using a special information storage device in a practice known as “skimming.”

          - Stealing wallets and purses containing identification and credit and bank cards.

- Stealing mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.

- Completing a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location.

- Stealing personal information from your home.

- Posing as a legitimate business person or government official in order to gather your info.

Once the thieves have your information, they may go on a spending spree or open new credit card accounts. When they don’t pay the bills the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. They may take out loans, obtain wireless service, counterfeit checks or debit cards, open bank accounts, file for bankruptcy under your name and give your name to police during an arrest. (If they don’t show up in court, an arrest warrant could be issued in your name.)

You can minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and with heightened sensitivity. New accounts show up on your credit report. You can obtain one free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies; visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Some of the inaccuracies on your credit report may be from computer, clerical, or other errors and may not be a result of identity theft. This is a good time to make sure your credit reports are accurate.

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