Identity theft is a serious crime where your personal information anything from your name, your driver’s license, or Social Security Number has been hijacked by an imposter who intends to commit fraud in your name. With your Social Security Number, someone can easily obtain false lines of credit and rack up significant debt in your name. With a stolen identity, someone might hide behind your name in a legal matter, leaving you with a false criminal record. Identity fraud is a major problem, and it happens more often than you might think.
Your mail often contains sensitive information, like your Social Security Number, and criminals can obtain it by going through your trash. It’s important to destroy documents that include personal information before putting them in the garbage. Identity theft can also occur as the result of a lost or stolen wallet or personal items such as credit or debit cards, passports, driver’s licenses, checks and or Social Security cards, in which case you should file a report with the local police, as well as your bank and credit card companies. Other ways information can be stolen include using malware or spyware to steal information from personal computers, hacking into computer networks or databases, or acting as a trusted organization in order to obtain personal information.
Additional ways to protect yourself from identity theft include password-protecting your devices and using anti-virus software, using caution when sharing personal information or account numbers online or over the phone and by clearing all personal information off of technology devices before donating or selling them.
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