Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, social security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn't make—or until you're contacted by a debt collector.

While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

Once they have your personal information, identity thieves use it in a variety of ways, including credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank and finance fraud and government document fraud.

Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft

The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to monitor your credit and bank statements each month, and obtain and review your credit report on a regular basis. If you take these steps, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft.

If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

Fighting Identity Theft

Awareness is an effective weapon against many forms identity theft. Be aware of how information is stolen and what you can do to protect yours, monitor your personal information to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen.

Armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and take action, you can make identity thieves' jobs much more difficult. You can also help fight identity theft by educating your friends, family, and members of your community.

This information was obtained from the Federal Trade Commission website, which is the best resource for information on identity theft.

For more information on identity theft, including how to obtain a free credit report and how to file an FTC Theft Complaint, go to the identity theft section at