Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States today. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity to gain access to their financial resources. If your identity is stolen, the ramifications could be a disaster when trying to make a home or car purchase. It is important to keep an eye on your credit report and monitor your incoming mail to see if anyone is trying to obtain credit under your name.
8 warning signs of identity theft
- Bills or collection notices for services or products that were never received by you
- You are unexpectedly turned down for a loan or job
- Calls from debt collectors about debts that are not yours
- Email, mail or calls about jobs in your child’s name
- A notice from the IRS that someone used your social security number
- Charges on your health plan or in the explanation of benefits that you did not receive
- You notice mistakes on your bank, credit card, or other accounts
- You begin receiving bills for services & products that you did not purchase
How to prevent identity theft:
- Use a product like computer security product like Norton Security and install a firewall product on your computer.
- Read your credit reports. The three nationwide credit bureaus are required to issue a free report every 12 months to you upon request.
- If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
- If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information. It should say “https” at the beginning of the website. The “s” stands for secure.
What to do if it your identity is stolen:
- Order your credit reports. Each company’s report about you is slightly different, so be sure to order one from each company. Read them carefully and notify them of any mistakes.
- Report it immediately. The Federal Trade Commission and your local police department are critical in filing the complaint. Once you file the ID theft with the FTC, you will have an ID theft affidavit.
- Flag your credit reports. Call the credit reporting companies & ask for a fraud alert on your credit report.