Characters in the Security Plaza

Questions & Answers: Identity Theft

What is identity theft?

Officer Williams: Identity theft is when a thief gets enough of your personal information to pretend to be you and then does things in your name—like get a credit card, open a bank account, or get a cell phone in your name.

What can your family do to reduce the risk of ID Theft, and what can you do to help?

Officer Williams: Remember that your personal information is valuable. When someone asks for it, stop. Ask them some questions: why do they need it? How will they use it? Will they share it with anyone else? Sharing information like your email address or phone number doesn't necessarily mean your identity will be stolen—but it pays to be cautious. Don't ever give out your family's credit card or bank account numbers, or your Social Security number, at least until you talk to your parents.

What is that poster about?

Officer Williams: The Federal Trade Commission put some good advice on that poster: Deter, detect, and defend yourself against identity theft. We talked a little about how to do that, but if you want to know more, check out www.ftc.gov/idtheft.