Identity Theft

Identity theft is when someone steals your personal identifying information and uses it to open new accounts, access existing accounts, or commit crimes using your name. An identity thief may even file a false tax return in your name, obtain a tax refund and leave you to sort out the mess with the IRS.

Glossary

  • Data Security Breach
    • an individual’s personal identifying information (DOB, SSN, address) has been exposed.
  • Compromised Account
    • an individual’s bank account and/or credit card account has been fraudulently accessed or used.
  • Fraud Alert
    • Free, good for 1 year. You only need to notify one credit reporting agency, it will notify the other two. You will need to provide certain personal information to verify your identity.
  • Credit Freeze
    • Blocks lenders and credit card companies from accessing an individual’s personal identifying information and credit information, preventing the identity thief from opening new bank, loan or credit card accounts. Has to be placed separately at each credit reporting agency. You will need to provide certain personal information and documentation to verify your identity. Free.
  • Credit Report
    • A credit report is a historical record of your financial history, and includes personal information such as your social security number and current and previous addresses, as well as loan and payment data and employment and income information. This information is gathered by credit bureaus and is used by lenders, insurance companies, employers, landlords, telephone companies, etc., to assess how you handle your financial responsibilities. Each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) is required to provide an individual with one free credit report each year. For victims of identity theft, obtaining the credit report will help identity fraudulent activity. 

The Federal Trade Commission has additional information on your rights under federal law and other information that may help you decide whether to file a fraud alert, credit freeze or both.