Identity Theft is at an all-time high, with so many breaches of information, monitoring to see if you may have falling victim to the popular growing crime is very important. The FDIC has great tips on how to handle the situation should you fall victim to identity theft .

For a true, free credit report, please visit AnnualCreditReport.com .

To learn more about credit reporting, identity theft, and mortgages, please visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's website .

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.

Protecting Your Identity

While identity theft can happen to anyone, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Here are five ways to make protecting your identity part of your everyday routine:

  • Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often.
  • Know your payment due dates. If a bill doesn't show up when you expect it, look into it.
  • Read the statements from your health insurance plan. Make sure the claims paid match the care you got.
  • Shred any documents with personal and financial information.
  • Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit com to get your free reports.

For more prevention tips — and resources you can share with others — visit ftc.gov/idtheft.

Warning Signs

There are many ways that you might discover that someone is using your information . You might get a notice from the IRS or find unfamiliar accounts on your credit report. You might notice strange withdrawals from your bank account, get bills that aren’t yours, or get calls about debts that you don’t owe.

What To Do Right Away

If you see one of these warning signs of identity theft, act quickly. Taking these steps will help you limit the damage. IdentityTheft.gov will guide you through each step.            

  • Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report.
  • Report identity theft to the FTC.
  • File a report with your local police department.

Then, take a deep breath and begin to repair the damage. Depending on your situation, your next step might be closing accounts opened in your name, or reporting fraudulent charges to your credit card company. IdentityTheft.gov can help — no matter what your specific identity theft situation is. 

Download the Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan document (pdf).

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has been publishing FDIC Consumer News quarterly since 1993 to help people protect their money, including tips in practically every issue about how to avoid financial fraud and theft.  A lot has changed over the years, especially consumers’ increased reliance on computers and the Internet — the “cyber” world — for everything from shopping and communicating to banking and bill paying.  While the benefits of faster and more convenient cyber services for bank customers are clear, the risks posed by these services, as well as the strategies for preventing or recovering from cyber-related crimes, may not be as well-known by the average consumer and small business owner. 

That is why the FDIC has produced this special edition of our newsletter — a guide to safe online banking that features precautions to take at home and when banking remotely (using laptop computers, smartphones and other mobile devices).  We include tips and information for parents and guardians wanting to protect their children from online fraud and identity theft, and for small businesses needing to secure their computer systems and data. You’ll also learn about what banks and bank regulators are doing to protect your money.

Note: This and other issues of FDIC Consumer News can be read or printed at www.fdic.gov/consumernews .  Check back there for versions of this issue for e-readers and portable audio (MP3) players. Single copies of this special edition and articles referenced here are available upon request to the FDIC’s Public Information Center (toll-free 1-877-275-3342 or publicinfo@fdic.gov ).  Our publication also may be reprinted in whole or in part without permission. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.