The face of identity theft has changed dramatically, evolving with the technology and economic landscape surrounding it. Understanding your exposure and staying informed of the trends and methods that thieves use to steal from you is the first step in a strong defense against identity theft.
Step 1: Know how you’re exposed
- Simple, everyday activities can expose you to risk. Opening accounts, applying for a loan, bank card transactions, mailing checks, filling out medical forms, or even just speaking with a customer service representative over the phone can expose you to the risk of identity theft.
Step 2: Be proactive
- Always be protective of your personal information and avoid providing it whenever you can. You’ll want to maintain software updates and use VPN and firewalls for cybersecurity and properly file or dispose of any physical documents that you no longer need. While online accounts are one place where you may be exposed, electronic records and transactions are often much safer than physical ones.
Step 3: Recognize when you’re being targeted
- Imposter scams often involve someone asking you for help, claiming you owe money, or telling you that you’ve won money. These scams generally rely on a sense of urgency that funds must be sent immediately—if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always refer to the official website for businesses or a number you know to be legitimate for any person you know.
Step 4: Report any fraud attempts
- Mark emails as spam so that your email provider can filter them more effectively in the future. Report IRS scams and spam emails to TIGTA’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting gov/tigta or call 800-366-4484. You can also report them to the Federal Trade Commission’s FT Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. If you’re a victim of fraud, report the incident to all three major credit bureaus, place a hold on your credit, contact each of your creditors’ fraud department, contact your bank or financial institution, and report the incident to law enforcement.