Identity theft is the process of another individual using your personal information without your permission. Identity theft can take many forms, from using your credit card number to renting an apartment. While some forms of identity theft can be easily resolved, others require a significant amount of time and money.
The following tips can reduce the likelihood of becoming the victim of identity theft:
- Do not throw away items with your personal information (bills, receipts, etc.). Always shred personal documents before discarding.
- Be cautious with your mail. Do not leave incoming mail in your mailbox for extended periods of time. Take your outgoing mail directly to the post office and if you are not receiving certain mail, contact the sender to verify the address.
- Never reveal your personal information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call. If personal information is requested, ask questions. It is your right to know why it is needed, how it will be used and who needs it.
- If your credit card or debit card is misplaced or stolen, contact your bank immediately.
- If you receive an unsolicited offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be especially cautious of deals on Cyber Monday. If placing orders online, only pay through secure websites.
It is important to regularly monitor all accounts for any suspicious activity, and check your credit report. If you are the victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends following four steps:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting one of the three consumer reporting agencies.
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
- Close the accounts that you believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT, https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ or Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20580
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. To file a report with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, please call the nonemergency number at 520-866-5111.