Information from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Identity Theft

Identity theft is when someone takes your name and personal information (like your social security number) and uses it without your permission to do things like open new accounts, use your existing accounts, or obtain medical services. Below are tips and resources on how to deal with identity theft.

How to Protect Your Identity

Here are some steps you can take to protect your identity.

  • Be Cautious with Personal Information
    Exercise caution when sharing personal information over the phone, mail, or email. Identity thieves can impersonate various figures to extract sensitive details like Social Security or bank account numbers.
  • Regularly Review Account Statements and Credit Reports
    Frequently review account and billing statements, as well as your credit report to identify potential fraud. If you notice anything that looks suspicious, report it right away.
  • Secure Your Mail
    Prevent mail theft by promptly collecting it from your mailbox.
  • Choose Strong Passwords
    Opt for hard-to-guess passwords and PIN numbers. Avoid using birthdates, pet names, family names, etc. Change them regularly for added security.
  • Protect Your Mobile Devices
    Enable security features on your mobile devices, particularly if they store contacts, banking information, or applications.

Ways Thieves Steal Your Identity

Here are a few of the common tactics thieves use to steal your identity.

  • Phishing and SMiShing
    Fraudulent emails or text messages seeking personal information. Never reply or provide details via unsolicited messages.
  • Dumpster Diving
    Shred documents to stop identity thieves from going through your garbage for personal information.
  • Wireless Hacking
    Secure home networks and avoid online banking on public Wi-Fi to prevent hackers from accessing personal information.
  • Malware
    Malicious websites and software programs that can be used to steal your identity.
  • Mail Theft
    Stealing information from your mailbox.

What To Do If You're a Victim

Take immediate action if you become a victim of identity theft:

  • Contact your credit card company/bank.
  • Change passwords and PINs.
  • Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports.
  • Check your credit reports and dispute any fraud.
  • File a police report.
  • Continuously monitor financial accounts and credit reports.

Additional Resources