Identity theft is the use of your personal information, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or other crimes. In many cases of identity theft, the victim is left unaware of this activity for some time after the initial incident has occurred. The effects of identity theft can be costly to you in terms of time, money, and stress.

Identity theft can occur from any of the following:

* When your purse, wallet, briefcase, etc. has been stolen.

* When your computer, tablet, phone, or other internet connected device, has become infected with malware.

* When businesses you have conducted business at, either local or online, have suffered a data breach.

* When phishing attempts are successful in obtaining your confidential information.

* When trash has been picked through by identity thieves, also known as “dumpster diving”.

Always remember that your financial institution will never solicit your personal information via email, phone call, text messages or social media. A good rule of thumb is never to respond to these types of requests; instead, call your financial institution directly. That way you know for sure you are not speaking to a potential identity thief.