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Preventing Identity Theft

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Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, identification, address, Social Security number, credit cards or other identity information without your knowledge or permission to commit fraud or other crimes.  Identity theft is a Federal Crime, and many states have also made it a crime.

How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?

The best way to prevent identity theft is to always protect your bank and credit card information, especially bank statements and receipts: 

  • Shred or burn all bank statements and receipts – Thieves may go through your trash to look for documents containing your account numbers
  • Do not keep credit cards in your car – Many credit cards are stolen out of glove compartments
  • Closely check your monthly statements for any unusual charges – Thieves may use your identity to make one small purchase first and then make a large purchase if the first goes undetected
  • Immediately notify the post office when you change your address – This will prevent your old mail from ending up in the wrong hands

Victims of Identity Theft

If you are a victim of identity theft you should call the police.  If there is sufficient evidence, the police will forward your case to the District Attorney’s office to prosecute the person who committed the crime against you.  You should also immediately contact your bank and credit card companies and inform them of the problem.  You may even wish to freeze or close the accounts.

What Can You Do if You Are Accused of Identity Theft or Fraud?

If you are accused of identity theft or fraud you should speak to a lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 02-03-2014 01:21 PM PST

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