Safeguarding Your Identity

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When it comes to identity theft, the issue you’ve probably heard the most about is credit card misuse.

But credit cards aren’t the only way imposters can steal your identity for fraudulent purposes. Here are five other methods:

  • Driver’s Licenses. Your driver’s license number can be used by an identity thief to write bad checks or request a replacement license or a non-driver’s identification card. If you suspect your number has been compromised, contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Ask if another license or card was issued in your name.

Tip: Does your state’s DMV use your Social Security number as your driver’s license number? Request the substitution of another number.

  • Investments. Your best protection against fraud is to look at your securities statements as soon as you receive them. If you notice transactions you didn’t initiate and you believe your account has been tampered with, report your concerns to your broker or account manager and file a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Assistance. Also contact the securities regulatory agency in your state.
  • Mail Theft. Are bank or credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers, tax information or new credit cards suddenly missing from your mailbox? It’s possible a thief made off with them, or even filed a falsified change-of-address form to divert your mail. Contact your local postmaster and ask.
  • Passports. You may have read about the passport the Russian government is using to pin the cause of the recent war in Georgia on an American citizen. Your lost or stolen passport may not cause an international incident—but it could cause plenty of grief. If yours is missing, contact the US Department of State through their web site or call a local field office.
  • Student Loans. Thieves may breach your account to obtain fraudulent loans or steal your personal information. If it happens to you, contact the school or provider that opened your student loan and close your account. Then call or write the hotline of the Inspector General for the US Department of Education to report the fraudulent loan.

Tip: If your loan provider is still using your Social Security number as your identifier, ask that it be replaced with a unique student ID number.

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