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Identity Theft: How to Protect Yourself. Identity Theft Identity theft defined:  the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another.

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Presentation on theme: "Identity Theft: How to Protect Yourself. Identity Theft Identity theft defined:  the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identity Theft: How to Protect Yourself

2 Identity Theft Identity theft defined:  the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another person for the purpose of assuming that person's name to make purchases. Identity theft statistics (2010):  8.1 million victims  $37 billion total costs  Average out-of-pocket costs $631  26 million records exposed through data breaches  “Friendly” fraud is up – the victim know the thief

3 How does it happen? Identity thieves might: Steal mail from your mailbox. File a change of address form in your name to redirect your mail.

4 Other identity thief tricks They might: Steal pre-approved credit card applications from the trash. Go “dumpster diving” for bank statements or cancelled checks. Steal wallets and purses.

5 What information do you share? Have you:  Signed up for a loyalty card program?  Ordered a pizza at your home?  Given your phone number to a cashier?  Participated in a sweepstakes?  Donated to a charity and given your address and phone number?  Registered a product warranty?  Signed up on Facebook or MySpace?

6 Most identity theft is low tech, but there are high tech methods: Phish ing – An authentic-looking e-mail that directs you to a web site to “update your information.” Pharming – “Hijacking” web domains to the thief’s own sites to gather personal information.  This can occur in 2 ways: 1. directly on users' computers 2. on domain name servers that resolve web site addresses for users

7 Phone Scams How this happens: Someone pretending to be from the government contacts you. They ask for personal information for a legitimate reason (i.e., census research). Someone contacts you asking for a donation to a fictitious charity.

8 Data Breaches Personal information from a business or organization data base. More than 155 million data records lost or stolen since 2005.  Over 3 million from college and universities  No notice required if data are encrypted How?  Hackers  Accidental postings of personal information  Stolen/lost laptops and data storage devices  Employees steal data

9 Twin Wi-Fi Hotspots Hacker creates a hotspot with the same (or similar) name as a legitimate hotspot – at airports, coffee shops, etc. Users connect to the hacker’s hotspot instead of the legitimate one Hackers collect personal information

10 How to Protect Yourself Mail: Put outgoing mail in secured mailboxes -- U.S. Postal Service mailboxes or the post office. Monitor your mail. If a bill or statement doesn’t arrive on time, find out why not. Buy a shredder. SHRED all billing statements and pre-approved credit card offers.

11 How Prepared Are You? True or False: 1. I use a computer with a firewall. 2. I don’t have a password or pin that is based on easily available information. 3. I shred all documents with personal information on it. 4. I never give out my SSN unless I initiate the contact. 5. I use a mailbox with a lock on it.

12 How to Protect Yourself Banking: Have new checks mailed to a P.O. Box or pick up them from the bank unless you have a secured mailbox. If you get an e-mail or phone call asking you to update your banking records, do not give out personal information. Call your bank yourself.

13 How to Protect Yourself Check out e-mails before answering. Never open an e-mail attachment unless you expected it or know what it contains. Never click on a web link in an e-mail. Check it out by opening a new browser window and typing in the URL. Watch that the URL doesn’t change when the site comes up. Check out e-mail scams at

14 How to Protect Yourself Don’t use easily available information (mother’s maiden name, birth date, the last 4 digits of your SSN or phone number, or consecutive numbers) for passwords and PINs. Pay attention to announcements about data breaches. Learn what legitimate hotspot web pages look like. Don’t send sensitive information through public Wi-Fi networks.

15 How to Protect Yourself: Credit Freeze: puts a lock on access to your account.  $3 in Georgia for each credit bureau  Unless you are 65+ or a victim of identity theft  Credit “thaw” within 15 minutes: $3 Some companies aren’t affected by the freeze  Insurance companies  Existing creditors  Law enforcement agencies

16 How to Protect Yourself: Identity Theft Prevention Products  Life Lock  Loud Siren  Many more! Check to make sure they are legitimate

17 Monitor Your Personal Information Check your credit card statements and bank records for unfamiliar transactions and report them. Check your credit report! Visit If you must give out personal information via phone, do so in a secure area. You never know who could be listening.

18 Reporting Identity Theft If you think your identity has been stolen: Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to create a fraud alert with all three:  Equifax: 1-800-766-0008  Experian: 1-888-397-3742  TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 Close accounts that have been tampered with. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. File a report with the police.

19 Other Tips for Reporting Identity Theft Act quickly! Keep a record of all conversations. Keep copies of e-mails. Make a copy of all documents you send and use certified mail.

20 For individual help contact: The Peer Financial Counseling Program (insert web address, phone number, and/or e-mail)

21 Special Thanks to...

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