Two women who are looking at a laptop with their hands on their faces who seemed to be concerned about identity theft

Identity Theft

Fraudsters are getting smarter every day and continually inventing new methods to get your information and money.
All schemes are designed to get one of two things: your money or the passwords and other data that can be used to get your money. The moment you receive a request, it’s time to slow down, get suspicious, and verify the claim or offer.
Account Confirmation/Service Scams
A telephone call, email message, or text message from what seems to be a legitimate company asking for you to provide your personal or account information to address an issue concerning your account (“we suspect an unauthorized transaction”, “your debit card has been deactivated, to reactivate…”, “we are conducting our regular account verification process”, etc.). You’re asked to provide the information directly over the phone, or in the case of email and text, directed to a fraudulent website or customer service number.
Check Cashing Scams
A request from a fraudster for you to deposit a check for the sender and wire them the proceeds. In exchange for your effort, you are told to keep a portion of the check. Inevitably, the check will be returned as counterfeit and you will be liable for the full amount of the check.
Sweetheart Scams
Also known as a romance scam, this is a scam most notably used on online dating sites on which a fraudster develops a romantic relationship with their victim. Eventually, the fraudster requests money or personal information.
Work-at-Home Scams
In this scenario the victim will respond to a work-at-home employment offer. Most of the offers will take the form of an invoice or payroll processing position that only requires an active bank account. The fraudster will move funds into the victim’s account with instructions to wire portions of those funds to pay “vendors”. An alternate version has the fraudster requesting that the victim wire funds to cover onboarding and training costs for the new position.
Tech Support Scams
Someone will present themselves to the victim as technical support for a well-known software or hardware vendor and will convince the victim to provide access to their computer, to unknowingly install malicious software or to provide credit card information for payment. A variation of this scam involves the victim receiving a pop-up message alerting the victim to a virus and asking them to install free security scanning software to remove the virus, again resulting in the victim installing malicious software on their computer.
You are your best defense against identity theft

  •  Keep your personal information to yourself.
  • Don't print social security number on checks.
  • Don't carry your social security card, passport or birth certificate unless needed.
  • Shred documents with personal information including credit card offers.
  • Never provide important information over the phone, email or on the internet.
  • Memorize all PINs and passwords. Do not write them down.
  • Send sensitive mail using a Post Office drop box.
Be aware if you:
  •  Receive bills on accounts you did not open.
  • Notice unauthorized charges on credit card statements.
  • Fail to receive bills you should be receiving.
  • Find inaccurate or fraudulent information on your credit report. Check your credit report for free at or call 877.322.8228.
  • Receive credit cards that you did not apply for.
  • Get calls from debt collectors for purchases you didn't make.
Take Action
The faster you react the sooner you stop the damage.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports.
  • Close accounts that you know or believe have been affected.
  • File a complaint with the Attorney General's Office.
  • File a police report and an identity theft incident report.
  • Request that credit bureaus identify accounts closed due to fraud as "closed at consumer's request."
  • Check your post office for unauthorized change of address requests.
 What is a Social Networking Site?
Social networking websites are a place for internet users to come together, often in groups sharing common interests in hobbies, religion or politics. These websites may require a minimum amount of personal information in-order-to join. Profile pages, telling other users about yourself, are another standard. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when an imposter gains access to personal identifying information (PII) and uses it for personal gain and exploitation.
How Identity Theft Might Happen Through Social Networking Sites
Because you must divulge some level of personal information in-order-to use and fully benefit from social networking sites, the risk of identity theft exists for people who use them.
Below are some of the ways that you might put yourself at risk of identity theft:
  • Using low privacy or no privacy settings.
  • Accepting invitations to connect from unfamiliar persons or contacts.
  • Downloading free applications for use on your profile.
  • Giving your password or other account details to people you know.
  • Participating in quizzes (e.g. How well do you know me?) which may require you to divulge a lot of personal information.
  • Clicking on links that lead you to other websites, even if the link was sent to you by a friend or posted on your friend’s profile.
  • Falling for email scams (phishing) that ask you to update your social networking profile.
  • Using no or out-of-date security software to prevent malicious software from being loaded onto your computer and stealing personal information.
How to Protect Yourself
  • Use the least amount of information necessary to register for and use the site. Use a nickname or handle (although this is not possible with certain sites).
  • Create a strong password and change it often. Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters that are not connected to your personal information (such as birth dates, addresses, last names, etc.).
  • Use the highest-level privacy settings that the site allows. Do not accept default settings.
  • Be wise about what you post. Do not announce when you will be leaving town. Other things you should never post publicly: your address, phone number, driver’s license number, social security number (SSN), student ID number and even your home town. Thieves can figure out your social security number by what town you were born in and what year. It’s ok to post what year or how old you are, but with this information combined with where you were born, they can figure out your SSN.
  • Only connect to people you already know and trust. Don’t put too much out there – even those you know could use your information in a way you didn’t intend.
  • Read privacy and security policies closely – know what you’re getting into. Some major social networking sites say they will use or sell information about you (not individual data necessarily, but aggregate information based on your personal information and that of others using their site), in-order-to display advertising or other information they believe might be useful to you.
  • Verify emails and links in emails you supposedly get from your social networking site (e.g. the Facebook scam emails that asked customers to reset their passwords). These are often designed to gain access to your user name, password, and ultimately your personal information.
  • Unclick the privacy settings that display the time stamps of your posts.
  • Install a firewall, reputable anti-spam and anti-virus software to protect your information-- and keep it updated!
  • Be certain of BOTH the source AND content of each file you download! Don't download an executable program just to "check it out." If it’s malicious software, the first time you run it, your system is already infected! In other words, you need to be sure that you trust not only the person or file server that gave you the file, but also the contents of the file itself.
  • Beware of hidden file extensions! Windows by default hides the last name extension of a file, so that an innocuous-looking picture file, such as "susie.jpg", might really be "susie.jpg.exe", an executable Trojan or other malicious software! To avoid being tricked, unhide those pesky extensions, so you can see them.
  • Use common sense. When in doubt, don’t open it, download it, add it, or give information you may have doubts about sharing.