Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. They could use your name and address, your credit card or bank account numbers, your Social Security number, or your medical insurance account numbers. Understanding what identity theft is and what you can do to protect your personal information is part of becoming financially literate.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you might find yourself responsible for what the thief does while using your personal information, and you might have to pay for what the thief buys. This is true even if you do not know about the bills.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your personal information and protect yourself from identity theft. See below for simple actions that can protect you from identity theft:
- Shred documents with medical or financial information instead of throwing them away in the trash.
- Review your account statements regularly. Look for any suspicious charges and report them.
- Use strong passwords and change them at least once a year,
- Avoid accessing online banking and e-commerce websites when using public wi-fi.
- Beware of phishing scams and do not provide personal information to individuals who contact you via phone or email.
If you are concerned about someone opening new accounts without your permission, you might consider using a credit freeze. Military service members who are deploying can also place an active duty alert on their credit reports to help minimize the risk of identity theft.
Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Help
Your Employee Assistance Program is a great place to start your search for identity theft information or assistance with financial topics. To learn more about what steps to take if your identity if compromised, visit the Federal Trade Commission Identify Theft website.
Contact your Component EAP specialist or DHS Work-Life Specialist at email@example.com for more information.