Identity Theft

Identity theft can occur when someone uses your personal information without your permission. Examples of this information can include your name and address, credit card or bank numbers, social security number, or medical insurance account numbers. Identity thieves can use this information to open a new line of credit in your name, get medical care, steal your tax refund, and much more.

Tips for Identity Theft Prevention

  • Keep your wallet light.
    • Leave your social security card, extra credit cards, pay stubs, etc. at home.
  • Only give out your social security number when absolutely necessary.
  • Monitor your credit and review your credit report at least once a year.
    • Be sure your report only shows accounts you have opened.
    • You can order your credit report for free, once a year from each credit reporting company, at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Pay attention to billing cycles.
    • If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
  • Store confidential information in secure places.
  • Never email, mail, or text your confidential information.
    • Phone calls or in-person meetings are more secure methods of relaying this information.
  • Shred personal documents, mail, or credit cards before throwing them away (e.g., credit card offers, account statements, expired credit cards, etc.).
  • Consider subscribing to an identity theft protection service.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails or phone calls requesting your personal information.
  • Avoid using ATMs at airports or other extremely high-traffic areas.

If you believe you are at risk, or a victim, of identity theft:

  1. Monitor and set up alerts for your credit card and other accounts.
    1. Set up alerts for large transactions.
    2. Set up alerts for changes in account/contact information.
    3. Set up alerts for international transactions.
  2. Place fraud alerts on your credit reports.
    1. Learn more at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert.
  3. For additional protection, place a freeze on your credit report.
    1. Learn more at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
    2. If you’re asked to create a PIN, make sure you use a PIN that is unique and do not use it for any other service.
    3. Set up alerts for credit score changes.
    4. NOTE: There is a three-day holding period when you lift a credit freeze. This will restrict your ability to open a line of credit until the holding period clears.

  4. Sign up for credit monitoring/identity theft protection.
  5. Set up two-factor authentication on all of your online accounts.
    1. Learn more at https://www.pcmag.com/feature/358289/two-factor-authentication-who-has-it-and-how-to-set-it-up.
    2. For instructions on how to set up two-factor authentication for your account(s), check the corresponding website’s help section.
  6. Be extra cautious of unsolicited emails and phone calls, specifically ones targeting financial activity.

For additional questions or concerns, reach out to TrojanSecure@usc.edu.