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Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

Identity Theft & Protection

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information (e.g. credit card number or social security number) and uses it fraudulently.

Did you Know…

  • Most stolen cards are used within 48 hours, so it is important to report a missing card immediately.

  • If someone steals your ATM card and uses it, you could be responsible for up to $500. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) states the amount you're responsible for depends on when you report the loss.

  • Over 10 million people become identity theft victims in the US each year.

  • Someone has their identity stolen every 4 seconds in the United States.

  • 60% of victims don't find out about the identity theft until 3 or more months after it occurs.

  • Victims spend anywhere from 6 months to two years recovering from identity theft.

How Does Identity Theft Happen?

  • Go through your trash or “dumpster dive”

  • Steal your wallet or purse

  • Steal your mail or submit a change of address form for your mail

  • Use “phishing” or fake emails to get you to provide personal information

  • Steal personnel records from employers

What Do Thieves do with Your Personal Information?

  • Take out loans in your name

  • Charge expenses to existing account

  • Open new credit card accounts

  • Access your bank accounts

  • Get a job

  • Ruin your good credit

Identity fraud is one of the nation's fastest growing crimes, affecting individuals and businesses alike. Although most people are aware of it, research shows that consumers and businesses are not taking the necessary steps to fully protect themselves. The best way to fight fraud is to prevent it in the first place.


  • Keep track of your credit and debit cards. If they are lost or stolen, report it immediately.

  • Never keep your personal identification number (PIN) on or near your card.

  • Don't give your account number over the phone unless you have placed the call.

  • Check receipts against monthly statements and report errors within 60 days.

  • Carry only the cards you need, especially when traveling.

  • Never lend an ATM card or a credit card to anyone.

  • Never give your ATM/Debit pin to anyone or any website.

  • Never leave cards or receipts lying around your room, no matter where you live.

  • Shred statements with your account number or personal identification information on it.

  • When using the internet, always check for the lock button at the bottom of the screen when submitting sensitive or confidential information via a website.

  • Check your credit report annually.