Protect Yourself from Identity Fraud
Put simply, identity theft is a major crime. It cripples your finances, destroys your credit history and can take mountains of patience, time and money to resolve. The good news is there are a lot of things you can do to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Signs Your Identity has Been Stolen
If you notice any of these signs, your identity may have been stolen, and should be reported immediately:
- Mistakes on your bank, credit card or other account statements
- Late bills or statements that generally arrive on the same time each month
- You receive bills or collection notices for products and services you never bought
- Calls from debt collectors on debts that don’t belong to you
- Other signs include a notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number, businesses turn down your checks or you are turned down for a job or loan unexpectedly.
Identity Theft Protection Tips
- Shred any mail you receive that has personal information or account numbers on it.
- Secure all account documents in a locked safe or in a safe deposit box.
- Have your mail stopped while you are out of town to prevent it from being stolen.
- Do not carry your social security card or passport with you on a regular basis.
- If you receive a phone call or email from someone asking for your personal information, do not give it out.
- Do not open emails that seem suspicious, and never click on a link in an email unless you are certain it is safe.
- Do you utilize online banking and bill pay options? Click here for tips on how to make online transactions safe and more secure.
- Are you a business owner? Click here for tips on how to make online banking for your business safe and more secure.
My Identity has Been Stolen. Now What?
Follow these steps if you believe you are a victim of identity theft:
- Flag your credit reports- get in touch with one of the three national credit reporting bureaus and ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit report. They have to call the other two bureaus according to law. This initial fraud alert is good for 90 days.
a. Equifax 1-800-525-6285
b. Experian 1-888-397-3742
c. TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
- Order your credit reports- each of the three credit reporting bureaus handles credit reports differently. Ordering a copy from each allows you to compare them to find mistakes. If you find any signs of fraud, contact the company.
- File an Identity Theft Report- this will help get the fraudulent information taken off your credit report, prevent collections on fraudulent debts and identity accounts the identity thief opened in your name. File your complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261). b. Once your complaint is complete, take this document, called an FTC affidavit, to your local police or to the police in the area where the theft occurred and file a police report. Be sure to get a copy of the police report.