FBI Springfield
Press Office
(217) 522-9675
January 25, 2024

FBI Springfield Highlights Identity Theft Awareness Week January 29-February 2

[SPRINGFIELD]—Your personal information is highly prized by criminal actors. The FBI calls it PII or personally identifiable information. During Identity Theft Awareness Week FBI Springfield is drawing attention to the importance of protecting your personal information.

PII theft can happen through a phone call, email, a malicious website, text, social media, or carelessly leaving your information exposed in public places. Even something as simple as your phone number in the hands of a bad actor can be enough to piece together enough information to steal your identity.

When a business or organization experiences a breech—albeit beyond your control— those compromised credentials can be sold online. This information allows perpetrators to take out loans in your name, open financial accounts and lines of credit, or file fraudulent health care claims.

“Be resolute in protecting your personal information,” said FBI Springfield Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “Taking the extra step to keep your personal information private can be the difference between being empowered or being endangered.”

Victims in Illinois lost $4.8 million to identity theft in 2022 according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Here are steps to protect yourself against identity theft:

  • Do not give out personal information via the phone, mail, or Internet/email unless you initiated the contact and are certain you are dealing with a trusted organization or individual.
  • Verify requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.
  • Do not open, respond to, or click on links contained within unsolicited emails or texts.
  • Use strong and different passwords to secure banking accounts, credit accounts, and other accounts that contain anything of value. Change passwords and check accounts routinely.
  • Limit personal information shared publicly on social networking sites.
  • Regularly obtain and check your credit reports from the three credit bureaus to ensure you recognize all accounts.

If your PII becomes lost or exposed, the following steps can help mitigate the damage:

  • Check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report.
  • If a company responsible for exposing your information offers you free credit monitoring, take advantage of it.
  • Monitor all bank, credit card, and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions. If you suspect or discover fraudulent activity, contact your bank or insurance provider, report the crime to law enforcement, and file a complaint with www.IC3.gov.