Identity theft is taking someone elseís personal information (such as, a driver license or identification card number, social security number, bank or credit card account numbers, etc.)
An impostor can use your identity to open fraudulent credit accounts, secure loans for cars and housing, or steal money from your bank accounts. It is a serious crime with serious consequences.
Identity thieves are targeting tax refunds. They file a phony tax return with your name, Social Security number, and other personal information in an attempt to collect your refund. To get help with this tax-related problem, report this to the IRS and also to the FTC at http://ftc.gov. If you are unable to resolve this issue, contact the IRSís Taxpayer Advocate Service http://irs.gov/advocate, which is designed to help people who have been harmed economically from this scam.
Phishers are crafty identity thieves who use spam in conjunction with fake websites to steal personal information. Protect your computer with a firewall; update your computer browser; donít fill out forms emailed to you with personal information; review your statements closely; monitor your accounts online; change your online banking passwords often; and be cautious of urgent emails wanting information.
Email fraud. Do not open unfamiliar email messages, pop-up ads, and attached files from strangers.
Update your virus protection regularly, use a firewall, and make sure a secure browser is in place when making online transactions.
Choose very safe passwordsónot your birth date or motherís maiden name.
When you go online to do banking or other financial programs, do not SAVE your password on your computeróthat makes you very vulnerable to hackers or computer viruses.
Always upgrade your operating system every time you have an opportunity to thwart intrusion.
Disposing of your computer. When you decide to get rid of your computer, get a strong utility wipe program for that computer before disposing of it. It is not enough to simply delete personal information.
Spyware monitors your computerís use. Every time you visit a website or open an attachment in your email, you could be downloading a spy into your computer. The spy is called a key logger, an invisible software that identity thieves are using to track your every movement online. It is as though a spy is looking over your shoulder to record every credit card number, your social security number, a bank account password, or anything you type that can be used to steal your money or your identity. 1/3 of online crime can be traced to key logging in part because the crime is easy to commit. The number of key logging crimes is doubling every year. Everyone is at risk. When you are online, you need to assume someone may be watching. Learn how to guard against key logging, and protect your privacy online.
What You Can Do
If identity theft happens to you, contact a Spokane Crime Victim Advocate for assistance, if needed, at: