Identity theft is on the rise in the U.S. and customers should take steps to project their information.

Identity thieves may open new accounts in your name if they gain access to key pieces of your personal information, such as your social security number along with your name or address. When the thief doesn’t pay the bills, the creditors come after you.

Ways to Protect Yourself

• Don’t expose your personal information.

• Watch your accounts and credit reports for anything suspicious.

• Shred bills and other documents before you dispose of them. Information used in utility fraud can be pulled from the victim’s trash.

• If you become a victim of identity theft regarding an electric account, file a police report and send NES a notarized letter stating you did not reside at the location where the debt was accrued.

• NES’ security department will investigate to determine the responsible party and transfer the debt. If we are unable to find the guilty party, the debt is removed from the victim’s account and credit report.

NES has safeguards in place to prevent against this growing crime, including following an identity theft prevention policy and federal guidelines to protect customers’ personal information.

NES customer service advisors receive annual training on how to identify a suspected identity thief. There is also specific information required before an account will be opened in their name or before they can access their account.

To sign up for service, two current forms of identification are required. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, social security card, passport and birth certificate. One must be U.S. government issued (or a political subdivision thereof) and one must include a photograph.

A credit check may also be performed for customers who do not want to pay a deposit. NES runs identity and credit checks through a major consumer reporting agency (CRA). If a problem is indicated by the CRA, electric service will be delayed until further proof of identity can be established.

Despite taking steps to project yourself, identity theft isn’t preventable. An NES customer recently became a victim. See the story that aired on News 2-WKRN.