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.
How to Protect Yourself
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Monitor Your Credit
Set up alerts for your credit card(s) and bank accounts
These alerts will send you an email or text message when money is spent above certain thresholds or your account has been used without the card present.
Protect Your Credit Card and Financial Information
Only enter credit card information on secure websites
Web addresses that begin with https and that have a lock icon in the address bar are secured with encryption software to protect your information.
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.
Protect Your Privacy
Beware of phishing scams
These scams are designed to lure you into submitting personal information online or clicking suspicious attachments. Legitimate companies don't request sensitive information via email. If in doubt, call the company's customer service center.
If You Suspect Your Identity Has Been Compromised
Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report
Review your credit report, credit card statements, and other financial information for suspicious activity
- You can request a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies (listed above) per 12-month period. The easiest way to get free copies of your credit report is to visit AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Look for suspicious activity such as new accounts you did not open or purchases you didn't make.
If you find your personal information has been used to commit fraud, file a report with your local police department
This will allow you to send a copy of the Identity Theft Report to creditors that require evidence that you allege a crime has occurred. You will also be able to place an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze on your credit line. Learn more at FTC Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes.
Consider putting a credit freeze on your account
Also known as a security freeze, this restricts access to your credit report. It makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name because potential creditors would not be able to see your credit report. It also means that you would need to lift the freeze temporarily if you want to apply for credit or to allow someone (such as a potential landlord) to see your credit report. For more information, refer to Credit Freeze FAQs.