Identity Theft - Oklahoma Money Matters
Identity Theft: Don't Be a Sitting Duck
Pull quote: Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes.
Did you know that one-third of identity theft victims are under the age of 30, and most of those are college students?
As a student, you can take special precautions to make sure your personal information doesn't fall into the hands of would-be thieves. If you live in a community setting, like a dorm, fraternity or sorority, keep your personal papers, such as your birth certificate, Social Security card, transcripts, FAFSA form or other documents with personal information, in a fire-proof lock box. These are relatively inexpensive to purchase and available from a variety of stores.
Instead of tossing documents that include sensitive information in the trash, use a cross-cut shredder to destroy them. It's also a good idea to keep your passwords secret. If you must write them down to remember them, store them in the lock box with your other sensitive items.
Here are a few other tips to keep you safe from identity theft:
- Don't carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet.
- Don't give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the contact.
- Don't use obvious passwords, like your name, birth date or mother's maiden name.
- Be on the lookout for bills that don't arrive as usual.
- Keep an eye out for charges to your account that you didn't make.
- Monitor your credit history. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get one free copy of your credit report each year from the three major consumer reporting agencies.
- Call 888-567-8688 (888-5-OPT-OUT) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com to remove your name from pre-approved credit card and insurance offer lists. Your name can be removed for five years or permanently.
- Don't click on links sent in unsolicited e-mails. If you get an e-mail from your bank or another company, go to the website you usually use and log in to verify the request. Fake websites can be easily manipulated to look like the real thing.
- When shopping online, make sure the web address starts with https://. The "s" is very important; it signifies that the site is secure. If you don't see the "s" or a locked padlock icon at the bottom of the screen, don't shop on the site.
If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, take the following steps to begin damage control.
- Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your report.
- File a police report. Most creditors will require this. If you can't get a copy of the report, try to get the report number.
- Contact all of your creditors and close any accounts that have been misused or opened without your authorization.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you're unable to get a copy of your police report, the FTC has a standard form that is usually accepted by creditors.
Important contact information for reporting identity theft:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Federal Trade Commission
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
This information presented in cooperation with Oklahoma Money Matters, the financial education outreach initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program. For more information about OKMM, visit www.oklahomamoneymatters.org or call 1-800-970-OKMM.