Preventing Identity Theft | Part II
Identity theft happens when personal information is accessed by someone else without explicit permission. Identity fraud occurs when criminals take illegally-obtained personal information and misuse it for their financial gain, by making fraudulent purchases or withdrawals, creating false accounts, or attempting to obtain services such as employment or healthcare.
These tips highlight the most effective ways to fight identity fraud:
Limit the information on your checks
It may be convenient to have your driver's license number or social security number imprinted on your personal checks to save some time when you write one, but if it falls into the wrong hands it reveals too much information.
Analyze your credit report annually
It is now possible to receive a free credit report once per year. The big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) are required by law to provide one free credit report to consumers through annualcreditreport.com. You should review it to make sure the information on it is accurate and also make sure that there aren't any accounts on there that you aren't aware of or any other suspicious entries or activity.
Protect your Social Security number
Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet with your driver's license and other identification. You should never use your Social Security number as any part of a username or password nor should you divulge it to telephone solicitors or in response to spam or phishing scam emails.
Stay safe online
Protect your computer like you would protect your personal financial information by turning it off when you are away, using a firewall and regularly updating the operating system and all software.
Protect yourself from phishing
Visit a website by typing the full Web address into your Web browser, not by clicking a link. Look for the "s" in "https" as well as the lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen when engaging in financial or sensitive transactions because it indicates an encrypted session.
For more information about identity theft regulations, please visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-itcs/itsecurity/regulations.cfm#ID.