Be the first line of defense against identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when a thief steals your personal information to commit fraud or other crimes like applying for credit, filing taxes or getting medical services. Acts like these can damage your credit status and cost you time and money to restore your good name. Warning signs of identity theft include:
- Unexplained withdraws from your bank account;
- Unfamiliar charges on your credit card or credit card bills missing from your mail;
- Medical bills for services you did not use or rejection of a submitted medical claim due to reaching your benefits limit, or medical records show a condition you do not have;
- IRS notification that more than one tax return was filed in your name;
- Collection calls about accounts you never opened;
- Denial for a new credit card, loan or other service;
- Unexpected drop in your credit score;
- Or Social Security statements show earnings that aren't yours.
Tips to protect yourself from identity theft
Frequently check your accounts. Regularly examine your bank and credit card accounts for unexpected charges or changes. Don’t ignore small charges or deposits of $1 or less. Thieves do this to see if the account is live and if it is monitored before enacting a big hit.
Set up a fraud alert. A fraud alert is a flag that credit reporting agencies put in your file to instruct creditors to take extra precautions, like requiring verification of identity, when opening accounts or issuing credit.
Monitor your credit report. Check your credit report for unexpected changes. If accounts that you are unaware of show up in the credit report, be sure to review them as possible fraudulent accounts created with your stolen information.
Value and protect your information. Don’t give out your Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, PINs, usernames, passwords or other items that should remain confidential.
Consider purchasing identity fraud protection. WVU offers voluntary identity fraud protection to both students and employees.