Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft: Terms You Should Know

Check Reporting Agencies

A Check Reporting Agency reports on consumer’s check writing histories, specifically highlighting incidents of fraud and bounced checks. Lending institutions use these reports to determine whether or not to open checking accounts for individuals.

Check Washing

Check washing is another method identity thieves use to steal from you. They dip your check in acetone, which washes the ink off so they can write it for a higher amount.

Credit Reporting Agency (CRA)

There are three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They keep track of your credit records, and issue credit reports to those who have a legitimate reason for needing to know your credit history.

Data Breach

Occurs when there is unauthorized access to company data including personal and financial information such as Names, Addresses, Social Security Numbers, Bank Account Numbers, Employer information, Medical Insurance and Credit Card Numbers.

Dumpster Diving

Dumpster diving is another method identity thieves use to obtain your personal information. They go through garbage bins for people’s personal information. That’s why it’s very important to always shred your important documents before throwing them out.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA is a U. S. federal law that gives everyone the right to see what the CRA’s have on file in their credit report. It also outlines permissible purposes for obtaining a periodic free copy of a credit report. And if there are inaccuracies found, they have the right to dispute them.

Fraud Alert

A fraud alert can be put on your credit report at the CRA’s if and when you become an identity theft victim. It’s intention is to let everyone know that someone may be trying to obtain new credit in your name, so the process will be very closely scrutinized. In practice, however, this safeguard accomplishes very little as it is often ignored or missed.

Identity Fraud

Identity fraud differs from identity theft in that the thief uses personal information that he’s made up, rather than information he’s stolen from a real person.

Identity Theft

Identity theft, one of the worst crimes in the world, occurs when a thief uses someone else’s personal information as his own, thereby creating a new identity of an existing person. The new identity then applies for any form of credit he can get. The most common things an identity thief steals are: your name and address, your Social Security (Insurance) Number, your driver’s license number, your employee ID number, your mother’s maiden name, and any account information, including bank accounts and credit accounts.

Identity Theft Passport

Identity Theft Passport programs, are available in a few states such as Ohio and Virginia. The “Passport” is a method of demonstrating to law enforcement and creditors that their identity has been stolen, and of rehabilitating their credit history and identifying any fraudulent criminal charges.

Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is a method identity thieves use to obtain your personal information. They steal your mail, which may include pre-approved credit card applications or any other information that will help them get credit in your name.

Notification Letter

A notification to an individual that has been affected by a data breach.


When you opt-out, you notify a financial institution, insurance company, CRA, or any other company that sells your personal information, that you don’t want your information shared. This is your right, and it protects you from unwanted junk mail and phone calls, not to mention identity theft.


The act of tricking someone into giving them confidential information or tricking them into doing something that they normally wouldn’t do or shouldn’t do. For example: sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.

Red Flags Rule

A law the FTC will begin to enforce in August of 2009 requires certain businesses and organizations including doctors offices, hospitals, finance companies, auto dealers, mortgage brokers, utilities, telecommunication companies, etc to develop a written program to spot the warning signs of identity theft.

Shoulder Surfing

Shoulder surfing is the name given to the procedure that identity thieves use to find out your PIN. They either hang around close to the ATM, or wherever you may be entering your PIN, or they can even watch from a distance, using binoculars. Once they have your PIN, you’re in trouble.


Skimming is another method identity thieves use to get your personal information. It’s usually done by an employee of a restaurant, a gas station, or any other place where you swipe your card. They have little swiping tools of their own, which they use to quickly swipe your card. A good way to prevent skimming is to always swipe your own card.


Street term used to describe meth-amphetamine addicts. These addicts often form ID Theft rings to finance their illegal drug habits. Tweakers are drawn to ID Theft because of its relatively low conviction rate and because of the hours they can spend falsifying documents while “on a tweak”.


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