Identity Theft

Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States… This crime varies widely, and can include financial identity theft (checking and/or credit card fraud), criminal identity theft, governmental identity theft, and medical identity theft… Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal identifying information (PII) such as Social Security numbers [immigration documents] and driver's license numbers and uses them for their own personal gain.
                - U. S. Identity Theft Resource Center

It can start with a very official looking e-mail, a phone call from what appears to be an official number, lost or stolen wallets, or stolen mail. There are always new schemes being developed where people create notices through mail, email or even by phone that appear very official, but they are not. We call these “scams” as they are trying to steal your personal information to commit crimes. Another term is “phishing” which uses e-mail and computers to try and obtain your personal information.

When is it OK to give out my personal data?

Generally your bank, employer, the Internal Revenue Service (for tax purposes), and the Department of Motor Vehicles (for your license application) have a legitimate need to collect your personal information.  Utility companies, cell phone providers, prospective landlords, and credit card companies (for your credit card applications) will also ask for your personal information such as a social security number (SSN.)  However these entities understand identity theft issues and would never request your information in a way/ through a medium that would put you at risk.   When it doubt, do not give out your personal information.

What can you do to prevent identity theft?

  • Ask OISS, your employer or school administrator before you give out personal information
  • Keep personal date (bank account number, SSN, passport, etc…) in a safe and secure place
  • You have no obligation to respond immediately (to mail, e-mail or phone calls) so disregard the request until you can talk to others to see if it is legitimate
  • Know that immigration officials would never ask for a fee payment over the phone
  • Most offices (Yale, banks, U.S. government) would never ask for your SSN, or personal passwords over e-mail
  • Phone call scams: If they insist on immediate action, ask for their name and phone number and say you will call them back in a few minutes. Then ask others (including OISS) if the situation sounds legitimate or not

Resources to understand or report Identity Theft

  • Please report any immigration fraud issues to OISS immediately

Social Security Number