What is identity theft?
Identity theft happens when a criminal gets your personal information and tries to steal money from your accounts, open new credit cards, apply for loans, rent apartments and commit other crimes—all using your identity. Identity theft can damage your credit, leave you with unwanted bills and require a lot of time and frustration to clean up.
How do thieves steal an identity?
Identity theft can start when someone gets and misuses your personal information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card number or other financial account information.
The thieves might use a variety of methods to steal your information, including:
- Skimming: Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special device on ATMs or when processing a purchase
- Phishing: Pretending to be a financial institution or other company and sending email or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information
- Pretexting: Pretending to be you when they call financial institutions, phone companies and other sources to get additional information
- Redirecting your mail: Filling out a change-of-address form to have your billing statements sent to an address they choose
- Old-fashioned stealing: Snatching wallets and purses, mail (including bank and credit card statements), pre-approved credit offers, new checks or tax information; they can even steal a company’s personnel records or enlist employees who have access to your information
- Dumpster diving: Rummaging through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it
How can I find out if my identity was stolen?
Check your accounts and bank statements each month, and your credit report at least once a year for transactions and accounts you don't recognize. Then act quickly to limit the damage.
What should I do if my identity is stolen?
Notify all your banks and financial companies as soon as you realize your identity has been stolen or an account is at risk. If you bank with us, call us immediately. We'll work with you to help correct any unauthorized transactions in your Chase accounts, fix any incorrect information we’ve sent to the credit reporting agencies and help protect you from any future identity theft or account fraud.
We also urge you to take these steps immediately:
- Download our free Chase Identity Theft Kit (PDF).
- Call the fraud departments of all 3 credit reporting agencies. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your file. This alert tells creditors to call you before they open any new accounts in your name.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- File a report with your local police. Even if the police can't catch the identity thief, having a police report can help you clear up your credit records later on.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Trained counselors staff the FTC's identity theft hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). Or you can file a complaint by visiting www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
- Fill out the Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF), which will help you when you tell other companies an identity thief has opened a new account in your name.
You can also check out these resources for more tips and information:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft site (mentioned above)
- U.S. Department of Justice—Fraud Section site
What can I do to prevent identity theft?
Here are a number of ways to protect your assets and good name:
- Don't give out financial information such as checking account and credit card numbers—and especially your Social Security number—on the phone unless you made the call and you know the person or organization you're dealing with. Don't give that information to any stranger, even someone claiming to be from Chase.
- Don't print your driver's license, phone or Social Security number on your checks.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. We’ll block payment on the check numbers involved. Also, look over new checks to make sure none of them have been stolen in transit.
- Store your new and canceled checks in a safe place.
- Tell us right away about any suspicious phone inquiries you get, such as callers asking for your account information so they can "verify a statement" or "award a prize." Don’t give out any personal or account information.
- Keep your personal identification numbers (PINs) for your ATM and credit cards safe, and don't write your PIN on the card itself, or store it in the same place you store your card. You should also guard your ATM and credit card receipts (and take care to destroy them before you throw them out). Thieves can use them to access your accounts.
- Make sure to create secure PINs and passwords. Don't use birth dates, parts of your Social Security or driver's license numbers, your address or your spouse’s or children's names, for example. Someone trying to steal your identity probably has some or all of this information.
- If you get financial offers in the mail you're not interested in, tear them up or shred them before throwing them away so thieves can't use them to steal your identity. Destroy any other financial papers, such as bank statements or invoices, before getting rid of them.
- Don't put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a US Postal Service collection box. Thieves could use your mail to steal your identity.
- If you don’t get one or more of your regular bills in the mail, call each company to find out why. A thief could have filed a false change-of-address notice to send your mail to another address.
- If your bills include suspicious items, such as charges you don’t recognize, don't ignore them. Instead, investigate them immediately.
Periodically contact the major credit reporting agencies to get and review your file and make sure your information is correct. You can request a free annual credit report from each of the 3 national credit reporting agencies, whether or not you suspect any unauthorized activity on your account, by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 1-877-FACTACT (1-877-322-8228). Or you can request a report by directly contacting each of the agencies below. They can also tell you about setting up fraud alerts and security freezes:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
You may also want to look at these resources to get more tips and information:
- Download our Identity Theft Kit (PDF). This kit has tips to help you fight identity theft.
- Onguard Online: This site offers practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer and protect your personal information.
- FDIC video: Don’t Be an On-line Victim: How to Guard Against Internet Thieves and Electronic Scams
- U.S. Department of Justice: Fraud Section websites
What do I do if I get a phone call about my account?
Never give out personal or financial information such as your checking account, credit card and Social Security numbers over the phone unless you made the call or you know the person or organization you’re dealing with.
We won’t ask you for your PIN or password by calling you or by sending you an email. We may ask for this information only when you call us to discuss your account.
Be careful when you get a phone call from someone who:
- Threatens to close or suspend your account if you don’t tell them your personal information
- Tells you your account has been attacked and then asks you to tell them your account or personal information
- Requires you to give any personal information, such as your user name, password or account number
- Asks you to confirm, verify or update your account, credit card or billing information
Please contact us immediately if you believe you’ve given out any personal information over the phone. To report a suspicious phone call or potentially fraudulent activity, please follow the instructions on this page.
Protect yourself and your identity
At Chase, we work hard to provide customized tools and information to help prepare you for whatever happens.