With the security breaches of major retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus, identity theft is on a lot of people’s minds right now. It is a very pervasive crime in our society, especially in the digital age, and everyone should recognize the risks and how to avoid them.
Learn the steps every consumer should take to decrease the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, and find some useful consumer resources compiled by UAPL librarians that can further help you not become a victim, or outline what to do in the event your identity is stolen.
Steps to Avoid Identity Theft
- Review your credit report annually. Everyone has the right to get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) every 12 months. This is where to start: www.annualcreditreport.com
- Thoroughly read all account and billing statements you receive, and report any errors or inconsistencies.
- Respond quickly to any notices you receive from the IRS - Be aware: The IRS will not initiate correspondence or ask for personal information by email. Contact the IRS by phone if you get an email that claims to be from the IRS. Click here for more information about the IRS and Identity Theft.
- Protect your personal information – Secure or shred documents with personal information, don’t carry around unnecessary ID information (i.e. your social security or Medicare card), and be alert to impersonators online. Don’t click on links and never share personal information by email. A company should never ask you to do this. Call the company’s customer service phone number if this happens.
- Protect your computer or mobile device – Use antivirus and antispyware software and a firewall. Don’t open attachments or click on links sent to your email by strangers. Make sure your hard drive is wiped completely before selling or disposing of a computer.
For more details on how to avoid becoming an online victim, this informative video from the Federal Trade Commission is a must-watch.
If you suspect or have become a victim of identity theft, you must act right away. Click here for information from the FTC on how to report and repair Identity Theft.
These books are always available for use in the Reference Department of the Main (Tremont) Library.
- Taking Charge: what to do if your identity is stolen from The Federal Trade Commission
- From Victim to Victor: A Step-by-Step Guide for ending the Nightmare of Identity Theft by Mari J. Frank
- 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age by Steve Weisman
Click on the titles to find and request these titles from UAPL's catalog.
- Identity Theft for Dummies by Michael J. Arata
- Stopping Identity Theft by Scott Mitic
- Child Identity Theftby Robert P. Chappell
- Stealing Your Life by Frank W. Abagnale
- Outsmarting the Scam Artist by Doug Shadel
- Scam-Proof Your Life by Sid Kirchheimer
Search the term “Identity Theft” in the following databases to find important resources. You will need your UAPL library card number to access research databases.
Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context – Contains full-text articles that offer viewpoints, statistics and current newspaper and magazine articles related to Identity Theft.
Legal forms – Offers forms, letter templates, checklists and more that you can download and fill in according to your needs.