According to recent statistics, over the last 3 years an average of 17 Million U.S. Residents experienced some level of ID Theft. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to establish credit, borrow money, charge items or even commit crimes in your name.
Here are some tips on how to avoid becoming an ID theft victim and what to do should you be targeted by one of these thieves.
Tips to Protect Your Identity
- Never respond to unsolicited requests for your social security number (SSN) or financial data.
- Before discarding, shred credit card, ATM receipts and any pre-approved credit offers you have received but do not plan to use.
- Check all credit card and bank statements for accuracy.
- Avoid easy to figure out access and personal identification numbers (PINs).
- Obtain a copy of your credit report at least annually and check it for accuracy.
- Use only secure Web sites when making online purchases. Addresses of secure pages begin with “https” instead of the standard “http” and should display a locked padlock icon somewhere on your browser.
If You Become a Victim of ID Theft
If you find you have become a victim of identity theft, immediately take the following actions:
- File a police report.
- Contact your bank(s).
- Notify all of those with whom you have a financial relationship.
- Notify credit bureau fraud units.
- Place a fraud alert statement on your credit report.
- Request bi-monthly copies of your credit report until your case is resolved (Free to fraud victims).
- Report check theft to check verification companies.
- Check the post office for unauthorized change of address requests.
- Send follow-up letters to any business or reporting agency contacts. Keep copies of all correspondence.
Be on the lookout for signs that something may be wrong. Here are few things that may indicate that you may have become an ID Theft victim.
- You are denied credit for no apparent reason.
- You don’t get your bills, bank statements 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.
We have compiled some useful documents and links that you should use if you ever find that you are a victim of identity theft.
The FTC’s ID Theft Site – https://www.identitytheft.gov/ . This is full of terrific information including step-by-step instructions about what to do in a variety of ID Theft situations.
Taking Charge – What To Do If Identity Is Stolen– This 68 page pdf produced by the FTC is an comprehensive printable guide – http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0009-taking-charge.pdf
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. http://www.stopfraud.gov/protect-identity.html The Task Force has established Financial Fraud Coordinators in every US Attorney’s Office around the country to help make these broad mandates a reality on the ground.
The FDIC Consumer Protection Resources For ID Theft – https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/assistance/protection/IdTheft.html This is another great resource for information regarding how to protect yourself as well what to do if you become an ID Theft victim.