Identity theft is now the top-reported form of crime in the United States with the Federal Trade Commission estimating that as many as 9 million U.S. residents have their identities stolen every year.
Identity theft is the crime of stealing someone's personal, identifying information for the purpose of using that information fraudulently. Personal, identifying information includes:
- Social Security Numbers
- Credit card and banking account numbers
- Patient Records
Fraudulent uses for that information can often include: opening new credit accounts, taking out loans in the victim's name, stealing money from financial accounts or using victim’s available credit.
The Montana University System believes education is the best protection against identity theft. A few tips to protect your identity are:
- Be cautious when giving personal details over the internet and phone
- Refuse to give account details to unsolicited calls or emails
- Be protective of PIN numbers
- Change passwords regularly
The links below provide additional information on identity theft, ways to avoid becoming a victim and what steps to take if your identity has been stolen.