Identity Theft Protection

Identity protection-Prevention, Detection and Victim assistance

What Are Identity Theft and Identity Fraud?

The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Identity theft places a burden on its victims and presents a challenge to businesses, organizations and government agencies, including the IRS. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen social security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data especially your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense. In many cases, a victim’s losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.

Prevent Identity theft from happening to you

Identity theft is a serious problem affecting more people every day. That’s why learning how to prevent it is so important. Knowing how to prevent identity theft makes your identity more secure. The more people who know how to prevent identity theft, the less inclined others may be to commit the crime.

Preventing identity theft starts with managing your personal information carefully and sensibly. We recommend a few simple precautions to keep your personal information safe:

  •  Only carry essential documents with you
    • Leave extra credit cards and your Social Security card in a secure place at home. It’s not necessary to carry all your credit cards with you when you shop – just take the ones you need for that trip.
  •  Use your Credit and Debit cards very carefully. Some precautions to be taken while using them.
    • When using an ATM, make sure no one is looking over your shoulder to see your PIN, and always take your receipt. Sometimes it has vital information that criminals could use to access your bank account.
    • Review your credit card receipt before you hand it back to the cashier. Some receipts will have your credit card information on them. If so, take a pen and cross out your credit card number before giving the receipt back.
    • Use a credit card, not a debit card, when shopping online. Only shop with companies you trust or have done business with in the past. Make sure they are using a secure server to store your information.
    • Always sign the back of your credit cards or write, “Ask for photo ID.”
  •  Be careful when giving out personal information over the phone
    •  Identity thieves may call, posing as banks or government agencies. To prevent identity theft, do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Protect your Social Security Number.
  •  To prevent Identity theft make sure your bank doesn’t print your social security number on your personal checks.
    •  Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers.
  •  Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes, and makes it easier for you to prevent identity thefts.
  • Take steps toward fraud prevention: Fraud Alert, Security Freeze, Security Freeze Fees, and Child Identity Theft.

 

How can I tell that someone has stolen my information?

  • you see unexplained withdrawals from your bank account
  • you don’t get your bills or other mail • merchants refuse your checks •debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours
  • you find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report
  • medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use
  • your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit
  • the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notifies you that more than 1 tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for
  • you get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account
  • you are arrested for a crime someone else allegedly committed in your name

 

Action to be taken if you are a victim of Identity theft

Place an Initial Fraud alert:
Three nationwide credit reporting companies keep records of your credit history. If you think someone has misused your personal or financial information, call one of the companies and ask them to put an initial fraud alert on your credit report. You must provide proof of your identity. The company you call must tell the other companies about your alert.
An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit in your name, so it may try to contact you. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you. The initial alert stays on your report for 90 days. It allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting companies.

Order your Credit reports:
After you place an initial fraud alert, the credit reporting company will explain your rights and how you can get a copy of your credit report. Placing an initial fraud alert entitles you to a free credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting companies.

Contact Businesses
If you know which of your accounts have been tampered with, contact the related businesses. Talk to someone in the fraud department, and follow up in writing. Send your letters by certified mail; ask for a return receipt. That creates a record of your communications. When you read your credit report, you may find unauthorized charges or accounts.
Create an identity theft report
An Identity Theft Report helps you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and businesses that opened accounts in your name. You can use the Report to:

  •  get fraudulent information removed from your credit report
  •  stop a company from collecting debts that result from identity theft, or from selling the debt to another company for collection
  •  Place an extended fraud alert on your credit report
  •  get information from companies about accounts the identity thief opened or misused
Creating an Identity Theft Report Involves 3 Steps:
Submit a complaint about the theft to the FTC. When you finish writing all the details, print a copy of the report. It will print as an Identity Theft Affidavit.
File a police report about the identity theft, and get a copy of the police report or the report number.
Bring your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit when you file a police report. Attach your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to your police report to make an Identity Theft Report.
 
 

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