For all the good found on the internet, it’s also easier than ever for criminals to steal your identity. Some of the information they’re looking for are social security numbers, birthdates, passwords, Medicare numbers, passport numbers, and bank account numbers. They’ll phish using email or phone calls to get you to reveal your personal information. They’ll comb news listings for birth and death announcements, or steal your wallet or your mail, and maybe even rifle through your garbage.

They’ll use your credit cards and driver's license, open their own credit accounts, rack up debt, steal your tax refund, or worse. The damage can take years to resolve, negatively impacting your credit score, and hurting your chances of getting car and home loans, insurance, and more credit.

Tips to prevent identity theft

Protect Yourself

  • Shred or otherwise destroy ATM receipts, credit or bank statements, and expired credit cards.
  • Never share personal information like credit card numbers or your social security number with anyone over the phone unless you initiate the call.
  • Check your accounts and credit reports regularly and report discrepancies or unauthorized transactions immediately.
  • Don’t open attachments or links in email messages unless you’re certain you know the sender. Always double check the sender’s email address, as phishers can make their messages nearly flawless.
  • Make sure the websites you visit are secure. Secure sites have a small padlock icon or show https in the address bar.