Identity theft

Identity theft is a prevalent crime throughout the country. It involves the use of the victim's personal identifying information to fraudulently obtain money from banks or goods from stores. The following are tips an individual can use to protect themselves:
  • Limit the number of credit cards or identifying information you carry with you. Leave your social security card in a safe place at home.
  • Shred your documents instead of throwing them away, especially anything that has your identifying information such as monthly statements, bills, receipts, and any pre-approved credit information.
  • Use a safe form of mailing practices. Use the post office or mailbox to send out mail, and if possible to receive mail. Make sure blank checks aren't mailed to your home where they will be left on your doorstep.
  • Review your bills monthly for any irregularities.
  • Never provide any personal information over the phone or by email request. Legitimate businesses will only ask for that information if you initiate the contact.
Free annual credit reports
Sometimes we can be victimized without ever knowing it. To ensure this does not happen to you, request your annual free copy of your credit report. You can request your copy through all three of the following companies.

To order your report, call 800-685-1111.
To report fraud, call 800-525-6285.

Trans Union
To order your report, call 800-916-8800.
To report fraud, call 800-680-7289.

To order your report, call 888-397-3742.
To report fraud, call 888-397-3742.

You can also request all three at once online at

What to do if you become a victim
If you discover you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps:
  • Write down a chronological order of events.
  • Collect any documentation you have related to the crime, including bank statements and bills.
  • Contact the credit card company or bank and notify them of the theft or fraudulent charges.
  • File a police report.