Understanding Identity Theft

How knowledgeable are you on the topic of Identity Theft? In this article, we’ll tell you what Identity Theft is, its potential damages to you, how Identity Theft can occur and how to protect yourself.

Identity Theft is the possession or use, through any means, of identifying information of another person without such person’s consent for financial gain or to further any unlawful purpose.

When your identity is stolen, thieves can empty your bank account, tag your credit card account with significant charges, open new lines of credit (loans, credit cards, etc.), provide your information to police, receive medical treatment on your health insurance and file fraudulent tax returns where the criminal receives a refund. All of these scenarios carry consequences of significant time and cost, as well as the destruction of your credit score and your good name. There are also health risks, too - by way of medical identification theft.

There are multiple avenues of how Identity Theft can occur:

  • Purse/wallet stolen

  • “Dumpster diving” - thieves go through your trash

  • Theft of mail (incoming or outgoing)

  • Stolen personnel records from employers

  • Data breaches (healthcare, merchants, government)

  • Use of technology in order to get you to provide personal information

  • Social media networks

  • Job applications

  • Employees/individuals possessing your personal information are tricked into providing such information

There are several key signs of Identity Theft that you can watch out for:

  • Unexplained and/or unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account

  • Unexplained and/or unauthorized changes in bank account information i.e. telephone number, address, etc.

  • You have not received an expected bill in the mail

  • Merchants refuse the checks you write

  • You receive calls from debt collectors for debt that is not yours

  • You receive notice that your information was compromised or may have been compromised in a data breach

  • You are arrested for a crime you didn’t commit in which your information was provided

  • You receive notification from the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name or you have income from an employer you don’t work for

  • Medical providers bill you for services you never received

Identity Theft can be prevented by monitoring your finances and credit reports regularly, shredding documents that possess any personal information, stopping others from knowing or obtaining your Social Security Number and by not supplying personal information unless you know or trust the individual(s) you’re dealing with. If you receive a telephone call soliciting information, always call the source back through a number you researched, not the phone number they provided. Also, don’t use obvious or easy passwords - mix in letters, numbers, upper/lower case and special characters or phrases whenever possible and don’t leave sensitive information or documentation in an unattended vehicle or in plain sight.

REMEMBER: You may do everything right and still become a victim of ID Theft. There is no such thing as a guarantee to Identity Theft prevention. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

Dollar Bank is a proud partner of DCR and is committed to supporting the organization in its efforts to build a well-connected community of residents in downtown Cleveland. Stop by either of our convenient downtown Cleveland Dollar Bank offices (Galleria and Public Square) to speak with our banking representatives so they may answer any further questions for you!

The information presented is general in nature and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific legal, tax or other advice to individuals.

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