Texas Tech University

Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently obtains personally identifiable information, usually for financial gain. Such information includes name, birthdate, Social Security Number, credit card number, bank account information, usernames and passwords, and other forms of personally identifiable or confidential information. Awareness is one of the most effective weapons against identity theft.

Methods identity thieves use to steal your identity:

  • Physically stealing your wallet or purse containing IDs, as well as credit cards and banking information
  • Tricking you into sharing your information through phishing and email scams, phony phone calls, or fake websites
  • Searching social media accounts for personal details or clues to passwords and password recovery questions
  • Searching through your trash looking for bills or other papers containing your personal information, commonly called dumpster diving; and
  • Installing malware on your devices without your consent or knowledge

Protect your identity by following these basic tips:

  • Install anti-virus and other anti-malware software on all your systems and devices. Configure your system to automatically install updates and security patches
  • Never respond to email requests for usernames, passwords, or any specific account information or other sensitive information. Credible institutions and organizations will not request personal information via email
  • Do not click on links in an email message, instant message, text message, or social media posts unless you trust the sender and are expecting the information. If you are unsure, check with the sender directly without using email
  • Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy documents containing personal information
  • Shop only at reputable and secure Internet locations. Make a point to look for the “https://” in the address bar; and
  • Regularly monitor your credit card bills carefully and investigate any charge that you do not recognize