Identity theft prevention and resources
In Operations Security (OPSEC), we know that we need to use countermeasures to prevent adversaries from obtaining classified, critical, or unclassified controlled information about our programs and activities. Countermeasures should also be used when protecting your personal information.
With identity theft on the rise, it is important to frequently monitor your identity and financial information. You should take necessary precautions to help avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. If you discover someone is using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or make purchases, take steps immediately to report and recover from identity theft. See below for useful information on how to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft and what to do if you learn that you are a victim.
Monitoring your identity and financial information
- Monitor financial account statements and immediately report any suspicious or unusual activity to financial institutions.
- Request a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Consumers are entitled by law to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion® — for a total of three reports every year. Contact information for the credit bureaus can be found on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
- You may place a fraud alert on your credit file to let creditors know to contact you before opening a new account in your name. Simply call TransUnion® at 1-800-680-7289 to place this alert. TransUnion® will then notify the other two credit bureaus on your behalf.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about you, your employees, your colleagues or any other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
- Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in emails.
- Do not send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security (for more information, see Protecting Your Privacy.)
- Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
- If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
- Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic (for more information, see Understanding Firewalls; Understanding Anti-Virus Software; and Reducing Spam.)
- Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.
- Employees should take steps to monitor their personally identifiable information and report any suspected instances of identity theft to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Recovering from identity theft
What to do right away:
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Place a fraud alert and get your credit report.
- Report identity theft to the FTC.
- File a report with your local police department.
What to do next:
- Close new accounts opened in your name.
- Remove bogus charges from your accounts.
- Correct your credit report.
- Consider adding an extended fraud alert or credit freeze.
- Illinois Attorney General Guidance on security freezes: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/security_freeze.pdf
For additional steps and printable checklists to assist in recovering from identity theft, visit the FTC website: https://www.identitytheft.gov/.