Identity theft

You have about a 1 in 20 chance of becoming an identity theft victim; it's among the fastest growing US crimes.

While criminals who steal identities often seek money, they may instead want to use your credit score, background checks, government benefits, tax refunds, medical insurance, or just break the law using your name rather than their own. Basically, you don't need to have a large bank account to be targeted.

Protect your identity

Here are a few ways to prevent your name and likeness from being misused.

Review monthly statements from your financial accounts

If you don’t keep a ledger, you need to be monitoring your account on a daily basis. Know exactly what your balance is in all financial accounts at all times. Shred old financial statements and documents that has your personal information inscribed.

Don’t carry your Social Security Card in your wallet

Social Security Numbers are issued based on location in the United States. You have a 38% chance of guessing an accurate social security number if you know the location codes.

Order and review credit reports

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place to get your credit reports free, once every 12 months. When reviewing your credit report, ensure that all of your information is updated.

Understand password safety

  • Change your passwords often (at least every 180 days).

  • Do not use the same passwords for multiple accounts.

  • Use complex passwords with at least 8 characters: upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

  • Consider using a password manager, such as LastPass.

Stay vigilant of scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phishing is an especially common scam to avoid.

Use credit cards for purchases

It is generally safer to use credit cards for major or online purchases as they often have strong consumer protections in place. They have fraud investigation departments that act as a liaison on your behalf. No money can be automatically debited from your accounts, giving you a higher chance of protecting your funds.