Cyber-Safety Basics: Prevent Identity Theft

Prevent Identity Theft

Why should you act to prevent identity theft? Because victims of identity theft may:

  • Be arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
  • Lose hundreds or thousands of dollars to thieves and/or to fees for cleaning up financial records.
  • Spend countless hours clearing personal records.
  • Be refused loans for housing or cars due to poor credit resulting from identity theft.

To help prevent identity theft:

  • Install and run Identity Finder Home Edition. Identity Finder is available for free to all UC Davis students and can help you find and remove or protect personal identity data. See http://software.ucdavis.edu for more information. Identity Finder Enterprise Edition is available for use on faculty and staff computers. Contact your technical support staff for more information about Identity Finder Enterprise Edition.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Make sure it's accurate and includes only those activities you've authorized. See www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
  • Don't send personal information via email or IM or online forms you access via a link in an email or IM. These are often part of "phishing" scams, a form of fraud that uses email messages that appear to come from a reputable business (often a financial institution) in an attempt to gain your personal or account information.
  • Place hard-to-guess passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts, and keep them secret.
  • When shopping online, make sure the site is secure by looking for the padlock icon in the corner of the page that asks you to enter your personal information.
  • Encrypt personal information, or store it on portable media and lock it in a drawer.
  • Lock your computer with a cable, and set an account password to login.
  • Use a paper shredder when throwing out personal information.
  • Protect others' information as you do your own.
  • See Identity Theft Recovery Resources if you believe you have been the victim of identity theft.