ID Theft & Privacy

ID Theft Information

Identity theft is commonly one of the fastest growing crimes in America. It is defined as someone using another person's name and identifying information to steal an identity.  Identity theft has been the number one reported consumer fraud on the Federal Trade Commission's website for several years.  By using your personal information, I.D. thieves can open accounts in your name, and make purchases using your good credit.  The thieves will have invoices and bills sent to a phony address, often a P.O. Box number, so you may not discover the crime for years.  When the crime is discovered, the crooks move on, leaving their victims to deal with the fraudulent debts.  Here are some tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Be aware of your personal information, and do not share it with anyone you do not know and trust.  Be particularly careful with your social security number.  Don't carry it around in your wallet or purse, and keep it safe and locked up at home.
  • Shred junk mail and other documents that contain personal information.
  • Conceal your PIN from view when you use a credit or debit card at the cash machine or grocery store.
  • Never respond to spam e-mail that asks for your personal information, account, or pin numbers.  Many e-mails, called "phishing" e-mails, purport to be from your bank, credit union, or another financial institution or business and ask you to "verify" your account information.  These are all scams.
  • Never give any personal information to someone who calls you on the phone.  These scams, called "pretexting," involve a scam artist who calls you and pretends to be from your credit card company, phone company, the police, the IRS, the jury clerk's office, or another business and they claim to need your personal information for a variety of reasons – all of which are fake.  No legitimate business or government office will ask you for personal information over the phone.
  • Don't use obvious passwords – like your birthday, or the last four digits of your social security number.

The Alaska Legislature recently passed a new law that is aimed at protecting the personal information of Alaska consumers.  The law requires businesses and government agencies to notify you if your personal information has been compromised, restricts the use of social security numbers, and requires records containing your personal information to be destroyed as soon as it is no longer needed.  In addition, the law allows you to place a security freeze on your credit report, and allows you to petition the court for a declaration of factual innocence after identity theft.  For more information, read the Alaska Consumer Protection Unit's summary of the Alaska Personal Information Protection Act.

Federal Trade Commission Links

Other Links of Interest