The Division of Consumer Protection's Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigation Program provides information and resources to help New Yorkers reduce the risk of identity theft and to assist victims in addressing the consequences of this crime.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the practice of stealing someone's personally identifying information and using it to fraudulently obtain goods, property, credit, utility services, employment or government documents or benefits. Personally identifying information can also be used to open new accounts in the victim's name or to take over existing financial accounts. The identity thief can also provide stolen identifying information to law enforcement during a criminal investigation, traffic stop or upon arrest.
Depending on the sophistication of the thief, a consumer may not realize that identity theft has occurred until he or she receives collection notices for unpaid bills or checks their credit report and sees unauthorized debts and accounts listed.
Identity theft can ruin a victim's credit score and expose the victim to potential legal liability. An identity theft victim faces the risk of being billed for services he or she did not receive. Until disputed debts are resolved, and the victim's credit report is cleared of erroneous entries, the victim can have difficulty finding employment, securing insurance coverage, obtaining credit and securing housing. A victim can even be charged with crimes they did not commit.
Other risks include reputation damage, compromised medical records, and the investment of time and money in clearing one's record.
ANYBODY regardless of race, age or socio-economic background can be a victim!
Major Types of Identity Theft
Identity thieves use stolen personally identifying information to make unauthorized credit card charges and bank withdrawals, apply for and receive utility and phone services, open new lines of credit, and receive government benefits.
A growing problem is medical identity theft. This involves the theft of a consumer's health insurance, Medicare or Social Security number to obtain potentially expensive medical treatment or drugs under the victim's name and, in some instances, bogus insurance payouts.
Warning Signs of Identity Theft
The following are signs that you or a loved one may have been victim of identity theft:
Receipt of bills for purchases you didn't make
Denial of credit for no apparent reason
Failure to receive monthly bank or credit card statements
Listing of inaccurate information on your credit report
Contact by creditors, debt collection agencies and law enforcement
With respect to child identity theft: receipt by your child of credit or credit card offers through the mail.
Identity Theft Can Happen to Anyone (YouTube video)
The Division of Consumer Protection presents a short video on how easily your personal information can be obtained and tips on how to help prevent becoming a victim of this crime.
The New York State Department of State Division of Consumer Protection Consumer's Guide to Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft (pdf) provides general information on how consumers can protect themselves. Steps to prevent identity theft are detailed below.
Check Your Credit Reports Regularly For Free
Learn about credit reports, how to read them and where to request your credit report for free. Checking your credit report regularly can help you detect if you've fallen victim to identity theft
Keep Your Personally Identifying Information Private
If someone steals your Social Security number or other personally identifying information, the thief may try to use the data to open credit card accounts and other financial accounts in your name. Learn how to keep your personally identifying information private. Additionally, take note of how to safeguard the identity of a deceased loved one
Protect Yourself When Online
Identity thieves use the Internet to collect personally identifying information for use in perpetrating fraud. Learn how to protect your data during online transactions and communications and when accessing the Internet at public hotspots and other locations
Safeguard Your Child's Identity
Parents and guardians should keep their children's personally identifying information secure and teach their children information privacy safety
Armed Forces and Veterans: Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
Learn how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. This includes checking your credit reports regularly; keeping your personal information private; protecting yourself online; and, safeguarding your child's identity.
How To Respond To Identity Theft:
- Dealing with the Damage: Read through the steps to take if you become a victim of identity theft and understand the tools available to assist you.
- Tools to Protect Your Credit: Identify the best option to protect your credit --Fraud Alert or Security Freeze; and learn how to put it in place.
- Data Breach Reporting Form and Compliance Guidance for Businesses: The likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft increases if your personally identifying information is part of a data security breach.
Consumer Credit Reporting Form
The form shall be completed and submitted electronically to [email protected] by June 1, 2021.
Note: The regulation requires the form to be updated immediately upon a material or substantive change to the information provided therein.
To view additional information click here.