Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, costing its victims an annual $5 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft occurs when a criminal steals personal information from an individual without their permission.
Identity theft can happens at work and in the safety of an individual's home. It is important to watch for phishing scams and other unsolicited emails you may receive. Never give any personal or identifying information over the phone or by email if you are suspicious of the organization. Checking out these organizations is important. An individual may also ask for a contact number and/ contact person to aid in receiving alternate information on the organization that has contacted you.
Once a criminal has obtained an individual's personal information they then have the ability to affect the victims life. The criminal will not only ruin a victims credit but, can create criminal records that may result in the victim being wrongly accused of a crime or being refused for employment.
Ways to prevent identity theft...
The best defense against becoming a potential victim is awareness. Understanding such items as credit reports and other financial records can help protect an individual from being blind to changes in their financial standing. Individuals should monitor their accounts and bank statements each month, and check their credit reports regularly. By regularly checking your credit report you are more likely to limit the amount of damage caused by criminals.
- Always check your credit report
- Watch your statements for any unauthorized charges
- Keep identifying information to yourself
- Use unique passwords if possible, never write them down and remember to change them regularly
- Install firewalls
- Always research companies/organizations who have requested your personal information
- Do not give personal information over the Web unless the site is secure
- Get educated about identity theft; for more information visit the below sites:
Identity theft victims lose money and time when rebuilding their credit and identity. Identity theft victims need to file police reports, notify creditors and dispute unauthorized transactions to begin restoring their identity.
What to do if affected by identity theft...
- Contact one or more of the consumer credit reporting companies
- Close comprised accounts and fraudulently opened accounts
- File a police report with your local station or where the fraud took place
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
If you discover you are a victim of identity theft, immediately contact any of the three consumer reporting companies below. The company you selected is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790