Protect yourself: deter, detect, defend

It starts with identity theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to open new accounts, gain access to your existing accounts or open new credit in your name. Your personal information can be gathered from:

  • Information stolen from your purse or wallet
  • Home and vehicle break-ins
  • Stolen trash
  • Checks printed with information other than your name and address, fraudulent phone callers, or Web sites that appear to be "official"

Deter: safeguard information

  • Sign up for safe and secure estatements, reducing the risk of theft from your mail box or trash
  • Get a locking mail box
  • Shred (preferably cross-cut) mail, financial documents or papers, including ATM receipts, credit statements and credit cards
  • Protect and secure your Social Security number and other personal information. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet or use your number as identification
  • Never share sensitive personal information online or over the phone if you did not initiate a transaction
  • Don’t use obvious passwords to online services
  • Don’t leave personal items in your car (purses, backpacks, mail)
  • Don’t print your phone number, driver’s license number or social security number on your checks
  • Limit the number of credit cards you carry.
  • Copy the front and back of items in your wallet and store copies in a locked location
  • Opt out of pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-567-8688
  • Create a list of key telephone numbers to call to report theft or loss of a wallet or card

Detect: routinely monitor statements and transactions

  • Use Oregon State Credit Union’s free online account access to monitor account activity. Look for transactions you didn’t make and notify your financial institution immediately if needed.
  • Register to receive Oregon State Credit Union electronic statements.
  • Be alert for mail or bills that don’t arrive in the mail.
  • Beware of credit denials.
  • Review at least once a year your credit reports from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Call 877-322-8228 or go online for your credit reports.
  • Notify the credit bureau in writing of questionable entries, then follow through until they’re explained or removed.

Defend: if your identity is stolen

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Have each credit bureau serving your area include the alert in your credit report.
  • Close accounts that have been tampered with.
  • File a local police report and a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint.

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