Identity Theft Information & Help
How Identity Theft Works
Identity theft is a serious crime where people try to obtain and illegally use your personal or financial information for their own gain, like your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, bank account numbers and PINs, and credit and debit card numbers.
Here are just a few ways in which thieves might obtain your identity:
• Search your trash - it's called "dumpster diving."
• Intercept your mail
• Steal your wallet or purse
• Get information directly from you by posing as telemarketers or as someone claiming to be from a legitimate business, like a financial institution or credit card company. They even use fake e-mails and Web sites to try and obtain information from you.
, you can find out more about common scams and how to prevent yourself from scammers and identity thieves.
What to do if Identity Theft Happens to You
Here is a government site with step-by-step instructions to help you regain your identity.
Common Types of Scams
Phishing email Scams
The number of "phishing" scams that are delivered through spam Email and pop-up windows is increasing, as well as their cleverness at deception. Scammers send out millions of "urgent" e-mail messages or links to the Web sites that are set up to appear as if they are from reputable and trusted businesses, like a financial institution or credit card company, trying to get you to provide your personal, financial or other account information. The e-mails and Web links go as far as using the logo of the legitimate company, and the pages look very much like the real company sites.
"Vishing" phone scams
SCCU would like to make you aware of the latest twists scammers are using to commit identity theft: "vishing" (short for "voice phishing"), customer survey phishing, and the jury duty scam. The scenarios may vary, but these scams always involve a request for your account information. Do not respond to these requests or any other unsolicited requests for personal or account information.
Common Account Scams Involving Contests/Lotteries ("You've Won!") and Check Cashing
One of the most common account scams is the "Contest Winner." Potential victims are contacted and told they have won a contest or lottery. But, in order to claim their prize, they are told they must send a certain amount of money (described as a tax), or provide account information so a direct deposit can be made. If you give out your account information, you're giving the scammer what he / she needs to withdraw funds from your account. Some scammers will go as far as to send a bogus cashier's check or money order as your "prize." The scenario varies, but account scams always involve a request for money. No legitimate prize venue would ever ask you for money in order to collect your prize. Do not respond to these requests, or any other unsolicited requests for personal or account information.
How to Report Mail Fraud
If you receive a fraudulent or misleading offer by mail, or if a company failed to deliver an item you purchased, you may report it to:
U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Mail Fraud Division: