What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a federal crime that occurs when an individual or group steals identifying information and uses it to commit fraud, typically for financial gain. 

Information criminals access this data – such as a Social Security number or credit card information – in multiple ways, including by mail, over the phone, and online.

How to Reduce the Possibility of Identity Theft


Be proactive. Taking a strategic approach to your own information security can give you an advantage over identity thieves. Follow these simple tips to strengthen your data protection.

Login Safely – Use Smart Login Information

  • Create different login information for each online account, opting for random, unique passwords with a combination of capitalized and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using commonly used words or public information, such as birthdays or addresses.

  • Memorize your login information. Never store it on or beside the computer.

Be Vigilant

  • Track payment schedules and credit/debit card renewal dates. If any account-related material appears late, contact the financial institution.

  • Enroll in online banking and check your accounts frequently.

Avoid Sharing Information with Unknown Parties

  • Be wary of unsolicited requests for Social Security numbers or other confidential information. When it is necessary to share information, confirm the party is who they say they are before complying, then make a note of the request.

  • Keep unnecessary information off your checks, such as your Social Security number, driver's license number, and telephone number.

  • Shred sensitive paperwork before discarding, including unsolicited credit card offers.

  • Use only official U.S. post boxes to send mail.

Report Suspicious Activity

If you believe your information has been compromised, take these steps as soon as possible:

  • Call KeyBank's Fraud Hotline at 800-433-0124.

  • Call the fraud hotlines at other financial institutions where you have funds or credit.

  • Contact the credit bureaus listed below and ask them to put a fraud alert on your file. This alert requires creditors to call you for confirmation before opening a new account, a common practice of identity thieves:

    • Equifax: 800-525-6285
    • Experian: 888-397-3742
    • TransUnion: 800-680-7289
  • File an identity theft report with your local law enforcement agency.