What is Identity Theft and what you
should do if you think your data has been stolen
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another
person's information without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is a serious crime that the Federal Trade Commission estimates
effects some 10 million Americans each year.
Awareness is among the most powerful tools in the
fight against identity theft. The more you know about how to protect your
information and the information of others you come in contact with, the harder
it is for identity thieves to commit their crimes.
Reducing my own risk of
While you can't entirely control whether you will become a
victim, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk.
your Social Security number.
Don’t carry your Social Security
card or other cards that show your SSN.
caution when giving out your personal information.
Scam artists "phish" for victims
by pretending to be banks, stores or government agencies. They do this over the
phone, in e-mails, with fake web sites, and in postal mail.
Information on current known threats is provided
here, or you can click
on the "Current Known
Threats" link on the left side navigation bar.
3. Treat your trash carefully. Shred or destroy papers containing your personal information including credit card offers and “convenience checks” that you don’t use.
your postal mail.
Retrieve mail promptly. Discontinue delivery while out of town.
your bills and bank statements.
Open your credit card bills and
bank statements right away. Check carefully for any unauthorized charges or
withdrawals and report them immediately. Call if bills don’t arrive on time. It
may mean that someone has changed contact information to hide fraudulent
your credit reports.
Review your credit report at least once a year. Check for changed addresses
and fraudulent charges.
pre-approved credit offers.
Pre-approved credit card offers are a target for identity thieves who steal your
mail. Have your name removed from credit bureau marketing lists. Call
toll-free 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688).
questions. Ask questions
whenever you are asked for personal information that seems inappropriate for the
transaction. Ask how the information will be used and if it will be shared. Ask
how it will be protected. If you’re not satisfied with the answers, don’t give
your personal information.
your computer. Protect
personal information on your computer by following good security practices.
Use strong, non-easily guessed passwords.
Use firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software that you update regularly.
Download software only from sites you know and trust and only after reading all the terms and conditions.
Don’t click on links in pop-up windows or in spam e-mail.
For more information on minimizing your risk, visit these
The Federal Trade Commission
The Social Security Administration "Identity Theft And Your
Social Security Number"
What should I do if I think my
personal information has been stolen?
If you think your identity has
been stolen, here's what to do:
1. Contact the fraud
departments of any one of the
three consumer reporting companies listed below to place a
fraud alert on your credit report. The fraud alert tells creditors to
contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your
existing accounts. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place
an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will
place an alert on their versions of your report, too. Once you place the fraud
alert in your file, you're entitled to order free copies of your credit reports,
and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will
appear on your credit reports.
www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);
www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX
www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim
Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
2. Close the
accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened
fraudulently. Use the
ID Theft Affidavit (PDF, 56 KB) when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
3. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the report or at the very least, the number of the report, to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
4. File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.
For more detail or for the most current information regarding identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site.
For information on what Shawnee State University is doing to reduce the risk of identity theft and data loss review Reducing the Risk of Information Theft at SSU.
For more detail or for the most current
instructions on what immediate steps identity theft victims should take, visit
the Federal Trade Commission's site entitled
Identity Theft Victims: