Four out of every five victims don't know their information has been stolen.
Identity theft occurs when a person gathers your personal information such as your name, social security number, or your date of birth and uses this information to open credit accounts without your permission.
Every year, the number of people affected by identity theft increases dramatically. Clearing the damage to your credit report takes months-sometimes years, as well as cost you money. Victims of this kind of theft may be denied loans and even employment opportunities when decisions are based on wrong information.
Losing your wallet or purse, or having them stolen poses a huge threat to personal information such as social security cards, ID's with addresses, credit and bank cards.
Your bills, statements, pre-approved credit card offers, and other documents may contain personal information.
A computer virus can easily transmit your personal information to an unknown party.
This may happen at work, stores you visit, schools, hospitals, etc. When a business' customer file is stolen, a thief has access to the personal information of a large group of people.
An identity thief poses as a legitimate representative of a company to gather personal information.
Save your receipts and review your accounts each month. This way you'll be able to reconcile your spending and easily recognize any unexplained transactions.
At least once a year, request a copy of your credit report and review the information for accuracy.
Do not give your personal information over the phone, by mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the transaction by contacting the Customer Service number that appears on a bill. Sometimes, thieves will pose as company representatives to gather your information.
Do not carry your Social Security number in your bag, keep it in a safe location. At the same time, take a few minutes to find out how the companies you have business with use your information and what steps are taken to keep your information safe.
1) Document your actions. Write down the time and how long you took to resolve your identity theft. In some cases, the person found guilty of the theft will be ordered to repay you for your financial loss, including lost wages. Keep copies of all your correspondences and register all the calls you place including the time as well as the name of the person you spoke to.
2) Contact the police. Open a police report, this way the police may begin a criminal investigation. You will also need information from the police report to clear your information.
3) Notify the credit agencies about the theft. The credit agencies’ fraud departments will place a fraud alert flag on your report.
4) Notify your bank and credit card companies. If the thief has gained access to these accounts, you can change the account number, suspend unpaid checks, and assign passwords. It is very important, if you decide to close the account, that the company report the account as closed at customer request.