Protect Yourself

Identity Theft Tutorial

Police Blotter
What is Identity Theft?
How Identity Theft Happens
Protecting Your Identity
What You Should Do if You've Become an Identity Theft Victim
Additional Resources


Vigilant consumers who exercise common sense, monitor their account status and protect their personal information are the best equipped to safeguard their identity.

Armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and take action, you can make identity thieves' jobs much more difficult.

This tutorial will help you to understand what you can do to protect yourself against identity theft.


What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a crime that affects consumers at home, at work, in the shopping mall or online.

It starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security Number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information.

Understanding how your identity can be stolen is first and foremost in steps to protecting your identity.

Let's take a look at that.


How Identity Theft Happens

Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to obtain your information, including:

  • Dumpster Diving: They dig through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
  • Skimming: They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
  • Phishing: They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
  • Changing Your Address: They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
  • Old-Fashioned Stealing: They steal wallets, purses, and mail including bank and credit card statements.


Protecting Your Identity

Here are some tips that can be used to help protect you from identity theft:

  • Monitor your accounts
  • Install Trusteer Rapport
  • Don't provide too much information on shopping sites
  • Never reply to emails that ask for personal information
  • Use strong and unique passwords
  • Shred your sensitive documents
  • Be careful when using social networking sites
  • Obtain a PayPal Security Key to add an extra layer of protection

We'll go over these topics in detail in the next few paragraphs.

Monitor Your Accounts

With a close eye on your account, you can spot suspicious activity and take steps to notify officials.

The accounts that you hold with your bank, phone company and e-commerce providers should be monitored regularly.

Review your financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking closely for charges you did not make.

You should also order a credit report every year to ensure that it is accurate.

Trusteer Rapport

It's important to stay safe while transacting on the Internet. Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated in stealing identities online. Even the best antivirus and firewall packages can't catch all attempts.

To help guard you from this threat we are now offering Rapport online browsing protection provided by the security experts at Trusteer.

Rapport secures your communication with eBay to prevent prying eyes from accessing information you enter online. It also blocks malicious programs from stealing or tampering with your financial information.

Learn More
View Demo
Download Trusteer

Disclose Only the Bare Facts When You Order

When placing an order, there is certain information that you must provide to the web merchant such as your name and address. Never provide a Social Security Number to a vendor.

Don't answer any question you feel is not required to process your order. Often, the web site will mark which questions are mandatory with an asterisk (*).

Should a company require information you are not comfortable sharing, leave the site and find a different company for the product you are seeking.

Verify Emails That Ask for Personal Information in My Messages

Any email from eBay about your account or requesting personal information will be copied to My Messages.

So, if you get an email about your account or requesting personal information, check to see if it is in My Messages. If it's not in My Messages, you know it is fake and you should immediately forward it to

Important:The "From" field of an email can easily be altered - it is not a reliable indicator of the true origin of the email.

Sign in to My Messages to verify your eBay email.

Use Strong and Unique Passwords

Strong passwords include a combination of letters and numbers. This helps prevent someone from guessing your password and prevents an intruding computer from randomly going through words in the dictionary until it finds the right match.

Strong passwords are also unique to the account. Just as you wouldn't use the same key for your car, office and house, unique passwords are an important preventative step in the event someone obtains one of your passwords.

Tip: The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better.

Shred Sensitive Documents

Use a paper shredder to shred paperwork with personal information and financial documents before you discard them. Paper shredders destroy your documents in thin paper strips, making your information less likely to be utilized.

By shredding all documents with your personal identification, you are taking one of the most important steps towards protecting your personal information and to safeguard your credit.

Tip: For a higher level of security, a cross-cut shredder is preferable as it shreds the documents in small chunks of paper making it much more difficult for a determined identity thief to piece together your shredded documents.

Be Careful When Using Social Networking Sites

Never post personal information such as your driver's license number, Social Security Number, birth date or your birth place.

Be cautious about posting your address, phone numbers or e-mail address. Most social networking sites will allow you to 'hide' this information from people you don't know.

Only connect to people you already know and trust. Don't put too much out there - even those you know could use your information in a way you didn't intend.

Obtain a PayPal Security Key to Add an Extra Layer of Protection

eBay and PayPal offer you two-factor authentication to make your password even safer and stronger. The sturdy and portable PayPal Security Key is a small lightweight device that fits on your keychain.

The PayPal Security Key generates a unique six-digit code that you add to your eBay User ID and password when you sign in.

Because only you "hold the key", your account has even more protection from unauthorized entry and identity theft.

To learn more and order a PayPal Security Key, visit the PayPal Security site.


What You Should Do if You've Become an Identity Theft Victim

Restoring your accounts and credit reports if you become a victim of identity theft can be an extremely frustrating and time-consuming experience.

If you think you are a victim of identity theft you should contact a number of organizations that have an impact on credit ratings and security.

We'll go over those steps on the next few paragraphs.

Contact the Three Major Credit Bureaux

Early contact should be made with the three credit reporting bureaux if fraudulent charges are discovered on any of your accounts.

Close the Fraudulent Accounts

To close your accounts, call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay.

Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents; ask for written verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.

Check Your Other Accounts

If you believe that one of your accounts has been stolen, you should check with the companies that host your other online accounts to verify that all of your accounts are secure especially if you use the same password for all of your accounts.

Tip:Tip: Learn why it's a bad idea to use the same password on all of your accounts on eBay's Security Centre.

Contact Check Guarantee Companies

In cases where an existing account has been compromised or new bank accounts have been opened fraudulently in your name, contact a check guarantee company like Telecheck at 800-366-2425 or online at

These companies can flag your file so that the counterfeit checks will be refused.

Note: Account fraud occurs when a person obtains your credit card number or bank account information and makes unauthorized charges or withdrawals.


Additional Resources

Here are a few of the many Identity Theft resources at your disposal:



We hope that you've found this tutorial helpful.

It's now up to you to watch for and report identity theft.

By taking a few basic precautions you can greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to identity theft. Remember, reporting these crimes can provide law enforcement the tools necessary to catch those responsible.


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