Identity Fraud and Identity Theft Information
What is the Difference Between Identity Fraud and Identity Theft?
Identity fraud is an attempt to steal funds from a victim's account by fraudulent means. Examples of identity fraud include making unauthorized ATM withdrawals with stolen ATM/debit card information, and making unauthorized purchases with a stolen credit card. The effects of identity fraud are generally more limited than with full-blown identity theft.
Identity theft generally involves using stolen personal information from a victim, such as his/her Social Security number or banking account numbers, in order to open new accounts and/or make significant financial transactions (such as buying houses, cars, or large amounts of electronics) in the victim's name. The effects of identity theft are usually much more widespread and can lead to significant financial loss or damaged credit for the victim.
What if I Become a Victim?
In most cases, identity fraud can be resolved relatively easily, by disputing the charges, closing your account/credit card with the fraudulent charges, and opening a new account to replace it. Generally, if the problem can be taken care of simply by changing your card or account number, you are not a victim of full-blown identity theft. (However, you should still keep an eye on your account statements and credit reports, to make sure the identity fraud incident is not part of a more serious problem.)
Resolving identity theft can be a much more involved process. At MUCFCU, we have a procedure for helping our members who suspect they may be victims of identity theft. As part of this process, a member who reports identity theft should submit his/her claim in writing, using the FTC's affidavit of identity theft.
For tips on preventing identity fraud and identity theft, check out the following websites: