Protect Your Identity
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
- Never use the "Remember my Password" function on any website that contains personal or financial information. Anyone using your computer or mobile device can access the same information or conduct business in your name.
- If you must store personal information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) on your computer or mobile device, use an encryption program to protect them. Store passwords in a password manager.
- Always use a secure internet connection. For secure wireless while on campus, use MWireless.
- Beware of phishing scams designed to lure you into submitting personal information online. These messages may look like official correspondence from a company you do business with, but don't be fooled! Legitimate companies don't request sensitive information via email. If in doubt, call the company's customer service center.
- Consider using one credit card exclusively for shopping online. That way you can monitor all online purchases on one statement, and keep another card for face-to-face transactions.
- Before placing an order via the web, look for a closed "lock" icon on the bottom of the page and make sure the address begins with "https". This signifies that encryption software is being used to create a secure transaction.
- Storing your credit card information on a shopping or service website may seem convenient, but it puts your credit at risk. Even highly respected online vendors have had their security broken.
- Unsolicited email and attachments can wreck havoc. A message may look like it's from a trusted source, but it's possible for an unscrupulous person to pretend to be someone else. If you're not expecting an attachment, don't open it or even reply to it! The safest approach is to delete it and contact the sender in a separate email.
- Monitor your credit. Order a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com, and beware of imposter credit report websites. For more information, see the FTC's Free Credit Report page.
If You Suspect Your Identity Has Been Compromised or Stolen
Take these steps now and in the future to detect fraud or identity theft committed using your personal information.
- Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report by contacting any one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies listed below. The alert will stay on your credit reports for 90 days. This is a free service. You need to contact only one company. The company you contact is required to contact the other two.
- Check for suspicious activity. Each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies (listed above) is required to provide you with one free credit report per 12-month period upon your request. It is always a good practice to regularly review activity on your accounts and to obtain your credit report from one or more of these companies. The easiest way to get free copies of your credit report is to visit AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Carefully review your credit report, credit card statements, and other personal financial account information. Look for suspicious activity. This does not include incorrect personal information, which might appear on the report in error. Examples of suspicious activity are new accounts you did not open or purchases you did not make. Close accounts that you believe have been tampered with.
- File an FTC complaint and an IRS theft affadavit if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft.
- File a report with your local police department if you find your personal information has been used to commit fraud. This will allow you to send a copy of the report to creditors that require evidence that you allege a crime has occurred.
- On an ongoing basis, carefully review your personal financial information, and periodically obtain a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to receive a free credit file disclosure once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies. You can keep checking for new activity at no cost to you throughout the year if you order a free copy from each agency one at a time spaced four months apart.
If You Suspect Your Email Has Been Compromised
See Compromised Accounts to learn how to deal with a compromised account at U-M.
Protect Your Reputation
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason. Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
- Once posted, always posted. Protect your repuation on social networks. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
- Your online reputation can be a good thing. Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughfulness, and mastery of the environment.
- Know and manage your friends. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups, or even consider having multiple accounts. If you're trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a "fan" page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know and trust) more synched up with your daily life.
- Be honest if you're uncomfortable. If a friend or co-worker posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend or co-worker approaches you because something you've posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them — respect those differences. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
- Know what action to take. If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site adminstrator.