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Learn How to Protect Your Identity

Identity thieves steal your personal information to commit fraud. They can damage your credit status and make it difficult to restore your good name.

Visit our Prevent and Report Identity Theft  page for tips on reducing your risk of becoming a victim.

Child identity theft is a common problem. Find out how you can protect your kids.

Keep Your Tax Returns Safe from Identity Thieves

Scammers can use the sensitive personal information in your tax return to steal your identity and even take your tax refund. Here are some tips to minimize your risk:

  • Make sure that anyone helping to prepare your taxes is trustworthy.
  • File taxes early in the tax season to reduce the window of time in which a thief could fraudulently file under your Social Security number.
  • If filing electronically, only submit forms through a secure Internet connection.
  • If filing by mail, go to the post office directly to mail the envelope.
  • Do not respond to email messages asking for your personal information that claim to be from the IRS. If the IRS needs to contact you, it will do so by mail.

An unexpected message from the IRS could be a tip off that an identity thief is misusing your Social Security number. Contact the IRS if you receive a notice that:

  • More than one tax return was filed in your name
  • IRS records show you were paid by an employer you don’t know

If you get such a message from the IRS or suspect that someone has stolen your Social Security number, call the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

Learn more about protecting yourself from tax-related identity theft.

Protect Your Identity When Using Mobile Devices

Being in first place usually brings with it bragging rights, but not if it’s the top spot in the Federal Trade Commission’s annual complaint report. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft has held that dubious distinction, as ID theft complaints once again topped the 2011 list. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 15 percent were related to identity theft.

Although smartphones brought great convenience into people’s lives, they also brought with them another opportunity for thieves to access personal data and use it to their advantage. As a matter of fact, a recent study by Javelin Research found that smartphone users are approximately 33% more likely to become a victim of identity theft than non-users. Further, the Javelin study also revealed that 62% of smartphone users do not use password protection, allowing anyone who finds or steals their phone to have access to the contents which typically includes a vast amount of personal information.

To increase awareness and provide identity theft protection resources, the fifth annual Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) , held October 20-27, will offer broad-based ID theft protection education in addition to focusing on the threats related to smartphones with the 2012 theme of “ID Theft Protection on the Go.”

During the week, events will be held nationwide in communities across the country, providing consumers with the opportunity to shred sensitive documents free of charge, obtain ID theft protection information, and responsibly recycle unused mobile devices.

It is anticipated that more than 100 events will be held from coast-to-coast. All events are free of charge and open to the public. To locate the PYIW event closest to you, go to Clicking on the website map will provide details of events in your area.

What To Do If You’re A Victim of Identity Theft

Video description

The immediate steps a victim should take to limit the damage caused by an identity thief.

Video transcript

NARRATOR: What to do if you are a victim of identity theft?

If your identity’s been stolen, the FTC is the right place to learn how to set things straight. Here are 3 steps to take.

First, call one of the nationwide credit reporting companies. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit report. This means businesses must confirm that you are you before they extend credit in your name.

The alert is a roadblock in the path of an identity thief—and it’s just one phone call away.

Second, order free copies of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies.

Third, complete the complaint form at creates an identity theft affidavit, which helps you file a police report.

Keep records of your calls and copies of your documents. You’ll use them later on.

For more tips and tools on dealing with identity theft, visit That’s slash ID Theft.