What is Fraud and Identity Theft

Fraud is wrongfully deceiving someone for personal or financial gain. There are many types of fraud but here are a few:

Check Fraud
When checks are written against closed accounts or accounts that do not have a sufficient balance or when a check is stolen and forged

Internet Sales Fraud
Taking payment for fake or counterfeit items that do not exist

Charity Fraud
Soliciting people to make donations to charities that do not exist

Credit Card Fraud
When credit card information is stolen and used to make purchases

Identity Theft
When someone uses another person’s identity to obtain credit, property and/or money. They can even obtain driver’s licenses and other consumer accounts.

Below are some of the ways that thieves gather personal information about someone to eventually steal their identity.

Theft
Stealing wallets, purses, mail, or using other sources to gather personal information

Dumpster Diving
Sifting through garbage to find bills, financial records or other documents containing personal information

Fraudulent change of address
Completing a “change of address” form to divert mail to a fraudster’s address

Pharming
Creating fraudulent websites that look legitimate in order to collect personal information

Phishing
Gathering personal information from forms that are linked from emails or pop-ups

Skimming
Electronic devices inserted in ATM and card processing machines to steal card information

Vishing
Voice Phishing is the use of an email or automated phone call delivering a false communication to trick recipients into returning the message by phone, text or online and giving up personal information.

Here are practices that can reduce the risks of becoming a victim and reduce losses due to Identity Theft.

  • Never share your Social Security number, date of birth, account numbers or any other personal identifying information to anyone over the phone, in a response to mail, through a website or in email. Regular email is not secure and should never be used to send sensitive personal information.
  • Limit the amount of personal information that you carry by only carrying your ID and credit cards used on a regular basis and never carry your Social Security card.
  • Make copies of the documents in your purse or wallet so that in the event that your wallet is stolen, you can contact institutions to close cards.
  • Shred receipts, bank statements, copies of checks, unused credit card offers and any other documents containing personal information.
  • Be alert to missing mail. If you have not received a bank statement or another important document you are expecting, contact the sender and verify if and when they mailed it.
  • When reviewing financial statements, monitor for suspicious activity or changes that you did not initiate.
  • Order your free annual credit reports

The American Bankers Association shares some advice specific to protection from Phishing. Check it out here

  • Not receiving financial statements or bills when expected
  • Receiving denials of credit for which you did not apply
  • Receiving unexpected credit card or account statements
  • Receiving correspondence about purchases that you did not make
  • Incorrect information on your credit report

Learn about what to do when personal information has been compromised.

When Personal Information is Compromised