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Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Don't Let Identity Theft Destroy Your Credit or Good Name

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you both time and money.

People who have experienced identity theft can spend months, even years - and thousands of dollars -cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. Victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, or cars, and even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit. Humiliation, anger, and frustration are among the feelings ID theft victims experience as they navigate the process of returning their credit and name to good standing.

Fight Back Against Identity Theft

Don't left identity theft happen to proactive by following the recommendations below.

DETER identity thieves by safeguarding your information.

  • Shred documents with personal information before discarding.
  • Don't give out your Social Security number or other personal information unless you know who you're dealing with.

DETECT suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.

  • Inspect your credit reports, financial statements and bills regularly for activity you did not authorize or expect.

DEFEND against ID theft as soon as you suspect it.

  • Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports.
  • Close the affected accounts.
  • File a police report.
  • Report ID theft to the FTC.

Identity Theft - Identifying How it Happens

Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information, including:

  • Dumpster Diving: Rummaging through trash looking for bills or other paper with personal information on it.
  • Skimming: Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
  • Phishing: Pretending to be financial institutions or companies and sending spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal personal information.
  • Changing Your Address: Diverting your billing statements to another location by completing a "change of address" form.
  • "Old-Fashioned" Stealing: Illegally obtaining wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. Stealing personnel records from employers, or bribing employees who have access.

Go to Defend Against Identity Theft to learn more about the steps you should take if you become the victim of identity theft.


To learn more about identity theft and how to deter, detect, and defend against it, visit Or request copies of ID theft resources by writing to:

Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, H-130
Washington, DC 20580

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