October 25, 2016
Identity Theft: Detection, Recovery and Prevention
Jane noticed suspicious charges on her bank statement, so she contacted her banker. After further investigation, Jane realized her identity had been stolen. Not only did the thief rack up charges on her credit card, but he used her information to file a tax return and register a scam business. Jane is now thousands of dollars in debt and has spent hours trying to reclaim her identity. Don’t be a victim like Jane – take steps to prevent identity theft from happening to you.
Identity theft (ID theft) is the fastest growing crime in America, with 11.7 million incidents per year and consumers losing more than $1.6 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). With these numbers on the rise, it is important to be aware of common identity theft trends, how to protect yourself from becoming a victim and what to do if it happens to you.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity thieves steal your personal information and assume your identity – usually on the internet or with fake identification documents ordered online. Armed with all of your personal details, they can quickly access your bank account, run up credit card expenses, register a business, get medical treatment on your health insurance or even file a tax return in your name and have the refund sent to them.
It’s not always possible to know when someone has gotten hold of your personal information and plans to use it (or is already using it!) to benefit themselves and cause you harm. However, if you notice any of the following, take action right away:
- Notification from a financial institution or any other password-protected account you hold that your personal information was compromised by a data breach.
- Unexplained charges/withdrawals from your bank, credit card accounts or on a credit report.
- Receiving debt collection calls for debts that aren’t yours.
- Inconsistent IRS notifications regarding tax returns or employer data.
- Inaccurate information on your health plan or medical claims.
- A change in frequency of receipt of bills or other mail/email notifications.
- Personal checks are rejected from retailers.
Immediate Action Items
If you become a victim of identity theft, you should immediately:
- Create an identity theft report. A complete ID theft report will combine an affidavit from the FTC and a police report. This is needed as proof to businesses that someone stole your identity.
- Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report. These free fraud alerts will make opening an account in your name more difficult. They also notify creditors to verify who is applying for credit.
- Place a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit report. This will make it more difficult for those who have your information to continue using it in the future.
- Review your credit report for unauthorized expenses. Make note of any account or transaction you do not recognize. You can review your credit report for free once a year using each of the three credit bureaus (listed below).
- Get fraudulent information removed from your credit report. Contact the three credit bureaus (listed below) to identify and remove any fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report.
- Contact the companies where the fraud occurred. Close or freeze your credit accounts so no additional charges can be added without your consent. Be sure to change your logins, passwords and PINS for the affected accounts and all other accounts where the same login information is used.
- Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance (1.888.766.0008)
- Experian.com/fraud/center (1.888.397.3742)
- TransUnion.com/fraud (1.800.680.7289)
Additional Steps to Take
- Resolve tax-related, medical or child identity theft.
- Report a misused Social Security Number (SSN).
- Replace government-issued IDs.
- Clear your name of any fraudulent criminal charges.
How to Protect Yourself
- Shred all important documents that include personal account information.
- Use secure passwords and change them frequently. Do not use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
- Review your credit report regularly.
- Freeze your credit as soon as you detect inaccuracies or unauthorized accounts.
- Invest in an ID theft protection product to monitor changes in your personal credit information.
Recovering from ID theft can be a lengthy and time-consuming process— and don’t think individuals are the only targets of this crime, your business is at risk, too. Be sure to follow these steps and securely keep as many records and documentation of the process as possible to protect yourself and your business.
For more information on how Revere protects its customers’ information, call 866-950-5784 or email email@example.com.
Check out this article featured in the Severna Park Voice.
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