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Preventing Identity Theft: A Guide for Consumers

NCJ Number
Date Published
16 pages
After presenting data and information on identity theft, this booklet provides the public with tips on how to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft and related criminal offenses.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines identity theft as "...all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain." This booklet first presents facts and statistics on the prevalence and nature of identity theft, followed by a listing of the various methods criminals use to obtain personal information that can be used to perpetrate financial harm on their victims, which include not only the victims of the identity theft but also institutions and businesses defrauded through identity impersonations. The booklet then turns to suggestions for how individuals can prevent the theft of their personal information, such as credit card numbers, ATM numbers, social security numbers, and banking information. Prevention tips are divided into the following categories: security for one's incoming and outgoing mail, security in conducting electronic commerce, security for personal financial records, security in banking, the selection of avenues for sharing personal information, and general ways for reducing the accessibility to others of critical personal information. The booklet concludes with recommendations for steps to take if one becomes a victim of identity theft. 6 resource listings