Identity Theft Risk Assessment Quiz

Identity theft is the fastest-growing white-collar crime in America today. About 10 million people were victims in 2003. Identity thieves steal key pieces of a victim's identifying information (e.g., Social Security number, driver's license number, or credit card and bank account numbers). This information is then used to commit crimes such as fraudulently withdrawing savings, buying a car or other merchandise, and opening credit accounts or a cell phone plan in a victim's name.

The bad news is that there's no sure way to guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft. Increasingly, "insiders" (e.g., disgruntled employees) who have access to financial databases are committing identity theft. Often they sell victims' personal data to street criminals who use it to commit fraud or theft. It can sometimes take months for victims to find out, especially if bills are diverted to a phony address.

Nevertheless, there are precautions that everyone can take to limit identity theft opportunities and/or to spot evidence of identity theft quickly. Take the quiz below to determine your risk of becoming an identity theft victim.

The higher your score, the fewer opportunities you are providing for identity thieves to steal key pieces of identifying information or for evidence of identity theft to go unnoticed. For further information about identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or check the website ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft.

Note: By taking this quiz you will be contributing to a study on identity theft risk. Your results will be recorded anonymously. We are not collecting any identifying information. You will need to complete each survey question and each demographic question in order to receive your score.

Checking for Evidence of Identity Theft

1.

I check my credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) annually to look for errors and evidence of identity theft.

2.

I review bank and/or brokerage account statements when they arrive to reconcile the balance and to check for unusual transactions.

3.

I save credit card receipts and check them against statements received from creditors. I do not leave them in shopping bags, where they can get lost or stolen.

4.

I know the approximate billing cycle for all of my credit cards and utility bills (e.g., cell phone) and call creditors immediately if bills are not received within a week of the due date.

Destroying Sensitive Personal Information

5.

I use a crosscut shredder, fireplace, or woodstove to destroy pre-approved credit card offers, bank or brokerage statements, old pay stubs and tax records, credit card receipts, and other "sensitive" documents.

6.

I destroy (shred or burn) everything that contains information of interest to identity thieves including utility bills (which could be used to obtain a credit report), personal correspondence (which could be used to corroborate my identity), cancelled checks, expired credit cards, etc.

Limiting Access to Sensitive Personal Information

7.

I avoid giving out my Social Security number or bank account numbers to unsolicited callers or orally (e.g., in a store) where others may be listening.

8.

I have a post office box or a locked mailbox for incoming mail (especially checks and bills).

9.

I place outgoing mail in a secured collection box along the road or at the post office--NOT in an unsecured home mailbox or rural route mailbox along the highway.

10.

I have my mail held when I'm away or picked up by a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member.

11.

I question how personal information will be used before revealing it to anyone and try to "just say no," where possible, or ask to use another type of identifier.

12.

I am cautious about not leaving personal information lying around my home, especially if it would be accessible to a roommate, babysitter, cleaning service, home contractor, etc. who has access to my home when I am not there.

13.

I avoid carrying my Social Security card in my wallet as well as any type of identification card with my Social Security number (or my spouse's social security number) on it. This includes college ID cards, military ID cards, employee ID cards, and health insurance/prescription drug ID cards. Instead, I carry copies of these cards with the SS number blacked out.

14.

I avoid printing my driver's license or Social Security number on personal checks.

15.

I limit the amount of personal information "out there" by not completing Internet "profiles" for rebates and contests and being cautious with online resume posting, electronic mailing lists, secured sites for online purchases, listings in Who's Who Guides, and other public data sources.

16.

I limit the number of credit cards and other identification information that I routinely carry around in my wallet or purse and I do not routinely carry around my checkbook.

17.

I am aware of who has access to my personal information at work and/or places I do business with (e.g. utility companies, medical providers) and have taken steps to question or limit unauthorized access, where needed.

18.

I cross out my credit card number or bank account number with a magic marker on receipts for travel or other expenses that I submit to an employer, charitable or professional organization, or other entity for expense reimbursement or for documentation of any type (e.g., tax preparation, product rebates).

19.

I am careful about completing postcards (e.g., for product warranties, contests, etc.) and place them in envelopes if they contain sensitive information.

20.

I practice "general security consciousness" by not leaving my wallet or purse unattended, even for a few minutes (e.g., at dances or on supermarket carts), zipping my purse shut, buttoning my back wallet pocket, and putting house lights on timers when I'm away. Also, using secure door locks, leaving questionable "sensitive" information spaces blank on applications, storing important papers (e.g., car title) in a safe deposit box, and keeping a list of credit card account numbers and contact information to report a loss quickly.

Demographic Data

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  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences