What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime where someone steals your personal information, such as your name or social security number, to commit fraud. This information can be used fraudulently to apply for new credit, file taxes or even obtain medical services.
This can damage your credit status and cost you valuable time and money to restore your good name. Victims of ID theft are often unaware that their identity was stolen until they experience some sort of financial consequence.
Identity Theft Facts
- Did you know that more than 9.9 million people fall victim to Identity Theft each year? That’s 19 people each minute!
- On average, it takes a victim an estimated $500 and more than 30 hours to resolve each identity theft crime.
- Identity Theft ranks among the top 5 consumer complaints as reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- The medical sector has more identity theft than any other industry.
How to prevent identity theft
- Monitor your accounts daily or weekly.
- File your taxes early.
- Use secure passwords and two-step verification.
- Set up alerts for new credit activity and check reports regularly.
- Choose identity-verification questions and answers carefully.
If You Think You’ve Been A Victim of Identity Theft-
Step 1: Contact the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Talk to the fraud department and explain that someone stole your identity.
- Ask them to close or freeze the accounts and remove any bogus charges.
- Obtain a letter from the business confirming you are not liable for any fraudulent accounts or charges and it was removed from your credit report. Keep for your records.
- Change logins, passwords and PINs for your accounts.
Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports.
- To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
- Get your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1.877.322.8228
- Review the reports and make note of any account or transaction you don’t recognize so they can be corrected.
Step 3: Report the identity theft to the FTC.
- Online: IdentityTheft.gov
- Phone: 1.877.438.4338
- Mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20580