Identity Theft

What You Need to Know!

Identity theft is a state and federal crime. CT General Statute 53a-129a (criminal) CT General Statute 52-571h (civil)

Identity theft occurs when your personal information (name, social security number, bank account number etc.) is used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity thefts can destroy your credit and good name.  It can cost you time and money to clean up the financial mess that identity thieves made.
 
Common Ways ID Theft Happens
Becoming the victim of a person who Identity Theft Prevention has criminal intent
  • Lost personal items – You innocently misplaced or lost your wallet / purse and it falls into the hands of a person with criminal intent.
  • Skimming -They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
  • Phishing -They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
  • Changing your address -They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a "change of address" form.
  • "Old-Fashioned" stealing -They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access.
  • Dumpster diving - They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
How to Protect Yourself from ID Theft
While nothing can guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft, you can minimize your risk, and minimize the damage if a problem develops, by making it more difficult for identity thieves to access your personal information. Here are a few precautions you can take to protect yourself:
  • Don’t put outgoing mail in the mailbox with the flag up or leave in an open unsecured area
  • Don’t give out personal information to strangers over the phone 
  • Don't share your computer name and PIN with anyone
  • Make copies of everything in your wallet or purse and put it in a handy place
  • Don’t respond to e-mails asking you to verify account information
  • Don’t respond to e-mails asking you to provide account information
  • Independently verify everything
  • Buy a shredder
  • Use your shredder
  • Don’t enter sweepstakes over the phone
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone to charity solicitors
  • Check your credit report periodically and look for new credit or inquiries
  • Don’t leave a paper trail when using an ATM, credit card or gas card 
What Should You Do if You Are a Victim of ID Theft
If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following four steps as soon as possible, and keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.
  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
  2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Tips for ID Theft Prevention
What should I shred - "Dumpster Diving" is a popular pastime of identity thieves as it presents many opportunities to find information than can be worth a lot of money. Shred all paperwork that has an account number (bank statements, credit card statements & receipts, utility bills, etc) a signature, your social security number on medical or legal information-as well as pre-approved credit card offers.
  • Never give out your personal information over the phone, unless you have initiated the call and trust the caller.
  • Protect your Social Security Number-this is not a number just anyone can have if they ask, always ask why companies or people might want your Social Security Number.
  • Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefit Statements once a year to check for fraud.
  • Always question the identity of people, and companies that initiate contact with you.
  • Do not carry your extra credit card or important identity documents in your purse or wallet unless it is necessary.
  • Keep a photocopy of all credit cards (both front and back)
  • Never leave your wallet or purse unattended-at work, restaurants, parties etc.
  • Reconcile all bank and credit card accounts immediately when you receive them. Challenge all unauthorized transactions immediately.
  • Always make sure that if you are making transaction from a computer that it is a secure site.
  • Never write down any PIN numbers-memorize them-if you need to write them down, place them in a secure place other than a wallet or purse.
  • Be aware of "shoulder surfers" when you are using your credit card or ATM card.
  • Whenever possible keep your card in sight during a transaction.

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