Identity Theft: What It Is, How to Spot It, and What To Do

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences. It occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information, and uses it to commit fraud. This can wreak havoc on your finances, credit score, and even your reputation.

How to Spot Identity Theft:

 

Unfortunately, identity theft can happen without you even realizing it. However, there are some red flags to watch out for:

 

  • Bills or statements you haven’t opened: Do you receive credit card statements or bills for accounts you don’t recognize? This could be a sign someone has opened accounts in your name.
  • Denied credit: If you’re denied credit for no apparent reason, it’s a good idea to check your credit report for suspicious activity.
  • Unusual account activity: Keep an eye on your bank statements and credit card reports for any charges you didn’t make.
  • IRS notification of a tax return filed in your name: If you receive an IRS notice about a tax return filed in your name that you didn’t submit, it could be a sign of identity theft.

What to Do if You Spot Identity Theft:

 

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, take immediate action:

 

  • Place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit reports: Contact the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and request a fraud alert or freeze on your credit reports. This will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name.
  • Contact the financial institutions involved: Report any fraudulent activity to the banks, credit card companies, or other financial institutions involved.
  • Report the identity theft to the police: File a police report to document the crime.
  • Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): You can report identity theft online at IdentityTheft.gov or by calling 1-877-438-4338. The FTC will provide you with a recovery plan to help you get your life back on track.

Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft:

 

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft:

 

  • Be careful about sharing your personal information: Don’t share your Social Security number, credit card number, or other personal information with anyone you don’t trust.
  • Shred personal documents before throwing them away: This will help prevent thieves from dumpster diving and stealing your information.
  • Use strong passwords and update them regularly: Create strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts and update them regularly.
  • Monitor your credit reports regularly: You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus every year.
  • Beware of phishing scams: Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails from unknown senders.

Identity theft can be a scary experience, but by following these tips, you can protect yourself and take control of the situation if it happens to you. Remember, early detection and action are key to minimizing the damage caused by identity theft.

 

For more Information on how to protect yourself against identity theft and what to do if you become a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.awpnow.com/main/law-access/ or give us a call at 800-343-3822.

 


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