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Protect Your Identity

What is Identity Theft

Identity Theft is when somebody commits fraud by impersonating someone without permission. Another person's information is used for personal or financial benefit and the damages it causes can be very extreme. Trying to recover from identity theft can be expensive and take lots of time so it's better to catch it before happens to you.

Avoiding Identity Theft

  1. If your card has been stolen or you think it is compromised, freeze your card before any unauthorized purchases can be made. You can find the major credit reporting bureaus below to freeze your card:
  2. Do not give out any personal information online or on the phone and ignore all suspicious requests for personal information or credentials. Do as much in person as possible.
  3. Enable two-step authentication (also referred to as two-factor authentication) for all online accounts that offer it.
  4. Keep track of multiple strong passwords with a password manager. Use a different password for every account.
  5. Make sure all devices have the latest updates and install malware protection software for extra protection.
  6. Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired cards to prevent dumpster divers from obtaining your personal information.
  7. Do not fall for IRS scams. The IRS will never communicate with you over phone, email, or the internet to get your personal information.

Detecting Identity Theft

  1. Go over your monthly financial statements and make sure there are not any unauthorized purchases.
  2. Review your credit report annually. A free annual credit report can be requested at
  3. Receiving an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notice via US Postal Mail that states:
    • More than one tax return was filed using your SSN.
    • You owe additional tax, had a tax refund offset, or have collection actions against you for a year and you did not file a tax return.
    • You received wages from an employer unknown to you.

Handling Identity Theft

  1. Contact one of the three major credit agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit records:
  2. Contact your financial institutions and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.
  3. If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, take the following additional steps:
    • If you received an IRS notice, double check the legitimacy and contact information before responding.
    • Complete the Identity Theft Affidavit, IRS Form 14039, and mail or fax it according to the instructions.
    • Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.