What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States, in the most recent data from the FBI 9.9 Million Americans have been victims of Identity Theft. Washington State ranks eighth in the nation in the rate of identity theft crimes per capita. The average victim spends 30 to 40 hours rectifying the damage caused by identity theft.
Identity Theft is the crime of stealing someone’s personal, identifying information for the purpose of using that information fraudulently. Personal, identifying information includes: Social Security Numbers, credit card and banking account numbers, usernames, passwords, and patient records. Fraudulent uses for that information can often include: opening new credit accounts, taking out loans in the victim’s name, stealing money from financial accounts, or using available credit.
How to Protect Yourself From Being a Victim of Identity Theft
1. Keep records with your personal information in a safe place and if you throw away records that contain personal or financial information shred them before putting them in the trash.
2. Monitor your bank and credit card transactions for unauthorized use. (On average, it takes identity theft victims 12 months to realize that they have been victimized.)
3. Don’t provide your credit card number online unless you are making a purchase from a Web site you trust. Reputable sites will always direct you to a secure pagewith a URL starting with https:// whenever you actually make purchases or are asked to provide confidential information.
4. Never provide your personal information to anyone who contacts you through a phone solicitation. If you do provide your credit card number over the phone, be certain that you were the one initiating the call.
5. Immediately report and cancel stolen or lost credit or ATM cards.