Identity theft is an all too common occurrence. In fact, in 2017, there was a victim of identity theft every 2 seconds. Having your identity stolen can happen in many ways, but often it’s only ever talked about when it happens on a grand scale. This has been happening due to data breaches by criminals hacking into business and government computer systems. Often times, these criminals are able to steal millions of people’s information at once. Although you can’t control when data breaches happen, you can still do your part to protect your identity as much as possible.
 
Here are a few ways you can protect your identity:
 
Have All Paperwork with Personal Information Stored Online
Whenever possible, replace paper invoices, statements, checks and more with electronic versions. For those items that are paper, be sure to scan them if possible, and shred them when they are no longer needed. If you’re a member of Sikorsky Credit Union, you can sign up for eStatements.
 
Only Carry Necessary Information with You
Any personal items such as your social security card, passport, and unused credit cards should be stored at home in a safe location. For the items that you carry regularly, be sure to make photocopies and store them in a secure place, so you have the contact information and account number available if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen.
 
Never Share Personal Information Unless Absolutely Necessary
Personal information such as your account numbers, social security number, license number, and credit cards should never be given out unless you initiate the transaction. Be wary about uninitiated phone calls asking you to give out this information.
 
Review Your Credit Report
At least once a year, review your credit report to make sure everything looks correct and that there are no suspicious or unknown transactions. You can get a free credit report once a year from one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.

Now that you know what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft, let’s go over some of the signs that you might already be a victim.
  1. You find charges and withdrawals on accounts that aren’t yours
     
  2. You find yourself being contacted about accounts or bills that aren’t yours
     
  3. Your health plan rejects your medical claim or won’t cover you because it shows a medical condition you don’t have, or it shows you’ve reached your benefits limit.
     
  4. The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name
     
  5. You don’t get any of your bills or other mail
     
  6. Merchants refuse your checks
If you’re looking for additional information or resources, please check out FTC.GOV/IDTHEFT