Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Preventing Identity Theft - 5 Things you need to know

From Defense Media Activity

The recent breach of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) personnel record systems potentially impacts 4 million federal employees and has been in the news this week. OPM is notifying the people who may have had their information compromised through June 19.

In this digitally connected world it's more important than ever to know how to protect yourself from online identity theft that can lead to someone using your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.

Here are 5 things you can do to protect yourself:
1. Check your account information. Monitor it regularly and report immediately any suspicious or unusual activity to your bank or financial institution.

2. Keep an eye on your credit report. Request a free credit report at or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Consumers are entitled by law to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus - EquifaxR, ExperianR, and TransUnionR - for a total of three reports every year. Contact information for the credit bureaus can be found on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website,

3. Verify who is asking for your information. Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about you, your employees, your colleagues or any other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.

4. Stay vigilant online. Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email. Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).

5. Keep your documents in a safe place. At home and when you are traveling it's important to only take what you need. Lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work and limit what you carry with you. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need.

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