ID Theft

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal identifying information and uses that information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make - or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

Results of Identity Theft

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many years repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

How Thieves Get Your Identification

  • They steal your wallets, purses, or mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and checks or tax information.

  • They find a lost wallet or purse.

  • They change your address by diverting your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.

  • They rummage through your trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.

  • They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information (also known as phishing.)


  • Do not habitually carry your Social Security card, Social Security number, or your Medicare card.

  • Never give personal information over the telephone or internet, unless you initiated the contact.

  • Cancel extra credit cards and IDs. Make a list of the credit cards you keep. Never leave a PIN with your card.

  • Order your credit report at least yearly - it’s free.

  • Shred all financial and personally identifying information before throwing it away.

  • Don’t allow a company to use your Social Security number for identification.

  • Remove your Social Security number from your driver’s license.

  • Know when your bank or credit card statements usually arrive. Call the company if they are late.

  • Check your credit and bank statements closely.

  • Only print your name and address on your checks.

  • Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.

  • Pick up your mail as soon as its delivered.

If It Happens to You

  • Report it to the Police. In Billings call (406) 657-8200, the non emergency number.Immediately after filing a police report, contact any one of the three national credit reporting bureaus and request a security fraud alert be placed on your credit report.
    • Equifax (800) 525-6285
    • Experian (888) 397-3742
    • TransUnion (800) 680-7289
  • Notify your bank, credit card companies, and any other companies that may be involved.