Identity(ID) Theft Guide

What is Identity(ID) Theft?

Identity Theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal identifying information (PII) such as Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers and uses them for their own personal gain. This is called ID Theft. It can start with lost or stolen wallets, pilfered mail, a data breach, computer virus, phishing, a scam, or paper documents thrown out by you or a business (dumpster diving). This crime varies widely, and can include check fraud, credit card fraud, financial identity theft, criminal identity theft, governmental identity theft, and identity fraud.

How can I protect and prevent my Identity from being stolen?

The basic steps to protecting and preventing ID theft are quite simple:

1: Shred all important documents. Bills, credit card offers, etc
2: Opt out of pre-approved offers.Call 1-888-5OPT-OUT or visit to remove your name from pre-approved credit or insurance mailing lists
3: Sign up for the national do not call registry
4: Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and debit cards
5: Contact all companies you do business with and place a password on all your accounts as well as opt out of all their mailings and data collection systems
6: Don't keep your social security card in your wallet
7: Never provide your personal information to anyone who contacts you through a phone solicitation
8: Check your bills and bank statements as soon as they arrive
9: Sign up for online or electronic billing instead of having your bills or personal identifiable information delivered via regular post
10: Check your credit reports for free
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, you are entitled to receive one free credit report from the big three credit bureaus every 12 months. Just visit Upon receiving your credit report, look for anything suspicious, i.e. accounts opened under your name that you are unaware of. If you notice anything suspicious, contact the credit bureaus immediately and consider placing a fraud alert on your reports.
Equifax — 1-800-525-6285
Experian — 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion — 1-800-680-7289
11: Set a secure username and password for all your accounts. Please consult the Password Strength Wikipedia
12: Don't list your date of birth and/or social security number on resume
13: Never use your atm card online to make purchases
14: Use one time use credit card numbers when shopping online please see your bank for further details
15: Guard your checkbook
16: Secure personal information in your own home
17: Know who else has your information
18: Sign up for credit report monitoring Comparison of Credit Monitoring Services or Credit Monitoring Comparison
19: Freeze your credit report Please see: NJ Credit Freeze and Financial Privacy Now
20: Keep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, and investments
21: Always take credit card receipts with you


1: Make sure your computer is patched and up to date
2: Use anti-spyware and anti-virus software
3: Be wary of online shopping sites
4: Never respond to phishing attempts or request for any personal information please see Phishing Wikipedia
5: Encrypt your wireless internet connection
6: Erase your hard drive if you ever sell or give away your computer
7: Install and use a firewall
8: Password protect personal files with encryption
9: Be aware that file-sharing and file-swapping programs expose your computer to illegitimate access by hackers and fraudsters

Recovering from Identity Theft

Recovering from ID Theft is a long and arduous process that is quite complicated and time consuming. Listed below are links to aid with the recovery process.

Your Identity Has Been Stolen: a 24-Point Recovery Checklist
Book: From Victim To Victor: A Step By Step Guide For Ending the Nightmare of Identity Theft
The FTC's Identity theft site
Rutgers University Identity Theft Assistance
Rutgers University Identity Theft Resolution Center
Identity Theft (Judicial Affairs)

More Information and Aid

Identity Theft Wikipedia
Identity Theft Resource Center
Identity Theft Resources from the Government
US Department Of Justice Identity Theft and Identity Fraud
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Social Security Online Identity Theft Electronic Fact Sheet
Better Business Bureau Identity Theft