Identity Theft

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission for illegal gain. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America.  Every year, more than 9.9 million Americans become a victim of identity theft, a crime that cost them roughly $5 billion.

Quick Links:   Detecting IDTheft    Recovering From IDTheft 

 

How To Protect Yourself

While it is impossible to completely prevent identity theft from occurring, there are some steps that can help you lower your risks:

  • Review your annual credit report and billing statements for any unusual activity. 

  • Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Don't leave it lying around.

  • Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks.

  • Watch out for "shoulder surfers". Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using pay phones and ATMs.

  • Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two.

  • Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.

  • Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.

  • Keep the software on your home computer up-to-date including virus-detection software.              


What Are Some Possible Signs of Identity Theft?

The following items can be signs of a possible Identity Theft issue:

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.

  • You don’t get your bills or other mail.

  • Merchants refuse your checks.

  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.

  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.

  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.

  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.

  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.

  • You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.


What To Do If You Are A Victim

If you believe that you may be a victim of Identity Theft, it is advisable to take some quick actions right away to begin addressing this.  This list of steps is often helpful:

  1. Place a fraud alert with the credit reporting companies and strongly consider placing a credit freeze.

  2. Get your free credit reports.

  3. Create an Identity Theft Report by filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your local police department.

  4. If you have experienced Tax Refund Fraud, then you can report this to by filing an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) with IRS.


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