What is Identity Theft? It,s when someone uses another person’s social security number, driver’s license, name, address, telephone number, and any other information about that particular person as their own.
The unauthorized person that obtains this information without the other person’s knowledge uses this information to commit theft and fraud.
How does a person committing ID theft get my information?
By going through your trash, hacking into a computer that you may use, securing a copy of your credit report, stealing credit card and debit card numbers.
By also stealing your mail, completing a change of address form to reroute your mail to a different address, stealing your purse or wallet, and scamming information from you by posing as a business person.
How would I know if I am a victim of ID theft?
If you receive credit card statements for accounts you did not apply for, you do not receive your mail, your credit is being denied and you do not know why.
When counterfeit checks are used to withdraw money from your bank account, you receive calls from collection agencies about bills for accounts established with your personal information that you do not know about.
And, other problems that you may have with your personal information.
These are a few tips to help prevent ID theft
1. Do not give out your personal information unless you initiate the contact or know the person or company with whom you are dealing.
Also, never disclose personal information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number, in response to an email. Legitimate businesses will not ask you to do this.
2. Do not give out your credit card number to an online vendor if the site does not use encryption and is secure. Look at the first part of the Web address on your browser. It should read “https://.”
3. Do not write your Social Security number or telephone number on checks or credit card receipts.
4. Remove all documents with personal information from your hard drive before discarding your computer or sending it in for repair.
5. Shred discarded documents, including preapproved credit card applications, bank statements, store receipts, and utility bills. “Dumpster divers” can gain access to your personal information if such items are thrown in the trash.
6. Cancel all credit cards that have not been used in the last six months. Open credit is a prime target for thieves.
7. Order your credit report at least twice a year and report any mistakes to the credit reporting agency in writing.
Should I order a copy of my credit reports to find out if I am a victim of identity theft?
Yes, you may want to consider doing this if you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft.
What should I do if my identity is stolen by someone?
Contact the three credit reporting agencies as soon as possible and let them know that you are a victim of ID theft and ask them to place a fraud alert and your statement as a victim in your credit report file.
Order a copy of your credit report from each agency to check the information on your report.
Contact the credit reporting agencies fraud units at these telephone numbers or addresses:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, P.O. Box 74021, Atlanta, GA. 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742, P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX. 75013
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289, Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA. 92834-6790.
Should I close my credit and checking accounts if ID theft has occurred?
Yes, you may want to consider closing your credit and checking accounts if you suspect identity theft.
Contact your bank and creditors about your identity being stolen and consider closing your accounts and establish new ones.
If your checks are stolen, request that your bank notify the check verification company that they use. You may also want to contact the major check verification companies as well.
The major check verification companies that you would want to contact are the following:
- Telecheck, 1-800-710-9898
- Certegy Inc., 1-800-237-3826
Use the companies listed above to find out if an identity thief has been using your checks. Also, you should contact your local police department and report that your identity has been stolen.
Make sure that you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about your identity being stolen as well. You can file this report at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
If you ever become a victim of identity theft, would you know what to do to help restore your name?
You can address many issues, such as:
Understanding your rights as a victim.
Filling out paperwork, including police reports.
Issuing a Fraud Alert to the three major credit bureaus, financial institutions, and credit card companies, as well as the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, Federal Trade Commission, and U.S. Postal Service.
Obtaining copies of your credit bureau reports and working with the three major credit bureaus to restore the accuracy of your credit history.
You can also get help if you become a victim.
As this crime grows increasingly common, consumers, who spent up to 300 million hours trying to resolve problems created by identity theft, are looking for options for dealing with the costs and hassles related to this problem.
Some insurance companies are offering identity restoration coverage. This type of coverage, often added for an additional fee to consumers, can provide access to identity restoration assistance and reimburse them for covered expenses incurred to help restore their identity.
While this coverage can help victims of identity theft recover their lives, it is still up to individuals to protect themselves. The following six tips can help make you less vulnerable to identity theft:
Don’t carry unneeded credit cards.
Cancel all unused, lost, or stolen credit card accounts immediately.
Keep Social Security cards, birth certificates, and other personal documents in a secure lockbox or safety deposit box. Don’t carry them, or duplicates, in a wallet.
Check credit histories periodically and report any unauthorized activity.
Keep careful track of all receipts. Store them in a safe place or destroy them before putting them in the trash.
Do not give out Social Security numbers or other information to any person or company unless you are familiar with them and you have initiated the conversation.
Are you ready to protect yourself from identity theft? If so, check out the resources recommended to you by Inker Street Consumer Credit Advice.
- Household Budgeting: Will show you how to stick to your budget. So, soon you will have a monthly surplus, and you will see your savings start to grow.
- Debt Consolidation Strategies: When it comes to debt consolidation, you need to practice techniques that are a little unique and very much focused on getting you out of debt within a stipulated period of time.
- Debt Destroyer: Finally you can fully equip yourself with these “must-have” tools for busting debt and live a life without having to worry about debt collectors!
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