Identity theft is a crime that continues to expand and affect more and more people in the United States. Identity thieves steal personal information such as name, date of birth, social security number, bank account, credit card information and more to commit fraud. Not only do the thieves seek to steal money, they also use stolen information to file taxes or get medical services. A person will often not know their identity has been stolen until they receive mystery bills, credit collections or loan denials due to poor credit caused by the theft. However, there are many precautions that you can take to reduce your risk of identity theft.
If you think you think you’ve become the victim of identity theft, report it immediately and contact your local police department.
What to watch out for as a U of M student
Email scams (known as phishing) are a common method to trick you into visiting a fraudulent website, opening an infected document, or logging in to "validate your email account." These emails, websites, documents, or login pages may be obviously fraudulent, or they may look exactly like the University's login page. The University of Minnesota Police Department has compiled a list of the most common scams targeting the University.
The University has many tips to help you recognize and report suspicious emails.
- If you responded to an email scam or clicked on a suspicious link, immediately change your password.
- Contact the University’s technology help staff.
If you are ever unsure whether an email is legitimate or not, ask [email protected].
Types of identity theft
There are many types of identity theft and, typically, they can lead to financial consequences for victims if not caught soon enough.
- Child ID theft - particularly problematic because the theft might not be identified for years.
- Tax ID theft - the use of your social security number to file false tax returns.
- Medical ID theft - using your information to get services or file false medical claims.
- Social ID theft - someone uses your information and photos to create a fake social media platform.
Identity theft prevention
- Do not carry your social security card with you. Be very careful who you give your SSN out to. Avoid ever giving your SSN out over the phone.
- Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information.
- Lock your cell phone and laptop, do not leave open and unattended.
- Monitor your bank accounts and credit accounts frequently. Don’t just wait for statements in the mail.
- Use complex enough passwords not containing obvious information such as date of birth.
- Order your credit report once a year.
- Purchase a service for identity theft monitoring.
- Criss-cross shred all important documents. Don’t just discard in the trash.
Reporting identity theft
Victims of identity theft need to report the crime immediately. The two places to report your identity theft first is to the Federal Trade Commission and your local police department. After you file your report with the FTC you will receive an identity theft affidavit. Once you have this document, then you can proceed to file a report with your local police department. Your identity theft report will be critical to have when you take the next steps to notify your bank, creditors and any organization you might have a financial relationship with.
Disclaimer: The University of Minnesota does not endorse, support, share a point of view or personal or political opinion, or have any involvement in the business, activity, movement, or program of third-party websites, tools, apps, or resources listed on this page.