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Protect your Identity

How You Can Protect Yourself

Identity theft is a serious and growing crime that has collected over 25 million victims. It happens when someone obtains your personal information, and uses it to commit fraud. In this age of digital communication anybody can be anybody they want to be by stealing pictures and information from social media sites, creating fake email addresses, and copy / pasting corporate logos and communication and using this information to trick you into divulging your personal information to them. Now more than ever, it is important for you to be vigilant in making sure that your personal information is protected because that person who claims they are an IRS agent looking for a payment, or your niece who suddenly needs to be bailed out of jail, or the Microsoft technician who needs to remove a virus from your computer is likely lying to you in order to gain your trust, and trick you into revealing personal information.


Having your identity stolen can cost you time, money, and be an incredible nuisance while you’re trying to clean up your credit and restore your good name.


You can deter identity thieves by practicing a few simple steps.


1) Always safeguard your personal information. Be very suspicious when someone asks for it.
2) Routinely monitor your financial accounts and billing statements.
3) Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it. Many times, identity fraud happens quickly. Once an identity thief has an active victim, they will work fast to maximize their payback before being detected. They may even pass your information to other like-minded criminals on the Dark Web.

Dealing with identity theft can be broken down into four simple components: Prevent, Detect, Correct, and Report. 


PREVENT


DETECT
Even using every possible effort to prevent identity theft, it still can occur. However, if detected early enough, the quicker it can be stopped.


Look for and react to the following warning signs:


Additionally, be sure to take advantage of annual credit reports that are required by law to be supplied to you. Your credit report will detail most of the credit accounts you have and your payment history with them. If you do not recognize an account contained on your credit report, immediately contact the credit reporting agency that is reporting it. Similarly, if your payment history is incorrect, immediately advise the credit reporting agency. The three major credit reporting agencies have created www.annualcreditreport.com to assist you in obtaining your free credit report. You may also call 1.877.322.8228 or write to Annual Credit Reporting Report Request Service, Post Office Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348.

CORRECT
If you discover any accounts that were opened without your consent, call and ask for these accounts to be closed by contacting the company where the account was established. Follow up in writing, as well. An ID Theft Affidavit is available from the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here. Document everything, including who you talked to, and when you talked to them. Also, ask for confirmation that the fraudulent accounts were closed, and any debt incurred was discharged. Some creditors may request a police report to assist the process. Do not hesitate to contact your local law enforcement authorities to file a report.

REPORT
After the initial work in clearing your name and credit is complete, report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Filing a report helps other law enforcement officials with similar investigations. This can be done online by visiting the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Website or by calling 1.877.438.4338 or by mail to: Identity Theft Clearinghouse Federal Trade Commission Washington, DC 20580.