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What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the illegal use of another's personal information, such as credit card numbers, Social Security number, or driver's license number, to commit fraud or other crimes. The more difficult you make it to steal your information the harder it is for the suspect to make you a victim. If you suspect that your identity or bank accounts have been tampered with contact your local law enforcement agency and credit/banking institution immediately. The longer you wait-the more damage can be done.
What to do if you’re the victim of identity theft:
- Immediately close any/all accounts you believe to be fraudulent.
- Immediately place a fraud alert on your accounts with fraudulent activity AND with all three credit reporting agencies (see below for reporting agencies information).
- Make a police report with the law enforcement agency in the city that you live in (or where the incident occurred if possible).
Avoid These Common Scams on Campus
If confronted by someone asking you to help them deposit a check or earn money for a job before doing any work by cashing a check-don’t do it, it’s a scam. Politely decline the offer and walk away. Notify university police (818) 677-2111 and be prepared to provide a description of the person and their location.
Don’t provide personal information to solicitors asking for donations, selling subscriptions, etc. Never provide your bank account or credit/debit card information unless you can confirm the business is legitimate. Kindly walk away and notify university police of their presence on campus (818) 677-2111 and be prepared to provide a description of the person and their location.
Tips on how YOU can deter Identity Theft:
- Check your credit report – For your annual free credit report visit annualcreditreport.com Learn more at ftc.gov/freereports.
- Read your bank statements carefully. Make sure you can account for ALL the charges listed on your account. If you’re suspicious about any large or even small transaction-call your banking institution.
- Tearing documents in half won’t stop a crook from piecing it back together. Shred documents containing personal information such as bank statements, credit card offers, etc.
- Stop mail solicitations of pre-approved credit card applications by removing your name from credit bureau marketing lists. You can also visit www.optoutprescreen.com or by calling (888)5OPTOUT. OptOutPrescreen.com is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry Web site to accept and process requests from consumers to Opt-In or Opt-Out of offers of credit or insurance.
- Stop telemarketing calls at home. The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your phone number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at this website. To register your home or mobile number for free, visit www.donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222. Your registration will be effective for five years.
- Remove your name from telemarketing telephone lists by visiting the Direct Marketing Association. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is the largest trade association in the direct marketing field with more than 3,600 member companies.
- Protect your smart phone with a password. With apps for nearly everything we might be giving the thieves just that-EVERYTHING (mobile banking access, email, personal information, etc.). Select a strong password containing uppercase/lowercase letters, numbers and symbols and avoid the obvious, ABC123.
- Beware of Spear Phishing, emails which appear to be sent from your banking institution or even CSUN prompting you to urgently update your account information. This is a scam to obtain your personal banking or student/staff account information. If you believe your account has been compromised, call or visit your banking institutions website by entering it yourself-NOT by copying a web address contained in an email.
- Limit your activities while using public Wi-Fi. Try not to purchase things or access email while using a public Wi-Fi zone. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are targeted by hackers since they can give the hacker direct access to your mobile phone or laptop. Using your network provider connection is much more secure than using a public Wi-Fi connection.
- Keep your computers operating system and antivirus software up to date. For free software available to CSUN students, faculty and staff, http://www.csun.edu/it. Log in with your CSUN user ID and password to access licensed software.
Identity Theft Resources
Identity Theft 101: 10 Tips for Students
10 Tools to Protect Against Phishing Attacks
Consumer Affairs - Identity Theft