Identity theft happens when a person utilizes another individual’s personal identifying info, such as their social security number, name, or credit account number, to commit fraud or other illegal acts. It can affect individuals of any age, background, income level, or even race. Identity theft typically occurs without an apparent victim. It does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or class.
Some credit reporting agencies (Equifax Inc., Experian Inc., and Trans Union) provide customers with a free credit monitoring service. This enables you to track credit activity, such as when an unauthorized transaction (such as a credit card chargeback) occurs, and to get in touch with the credit bureaus to report any activity that violates the law. This service is very important if someone uses your credit or social security number to apply for credit cards, loans, leases, etc. It is also imperative that consumers who sign up for online accounts such as MySpace, Facebook, and Yahoo! always monitor their accounts to make sure there are no suspicious activities happening there.
Track Your Bills
Protect yourself from identity theft by monitoring your bills and statements regularly. People tend to assume that bill collectors only send them their bills in the mail. If a collector calls and threatens you or your family members about not paying your bills, do not make an immediate phone call to the collection agency. Instead, block the number from calling you again and call the company to let them know that you are receiving these calls. Report any suspicious activity that occurs with your bills. You can also get a free credit report once per year from each of the three credit bureaus.
Secure Your Phone
If your phone contains sensitive information such as a credit card, bank account numbers, etc., be very careful with whom you give your phone number. Avoid giving this information to random strangers on the street. Instead, use passwords and other security measures when giving out your sensitive information. Also, be wary of giving out your credit cards to total strangers. While you may look cool giving out your credit cards to complete strangers, this can lead to identity theft.
Monitor Your Bank Account
Knowing where your money is going can be a major help in thwarting identity theft. Be sure to scrutinize all of your outgoing bills and credit reports carefully. Have a complete inventory of all of your outgoing bills, both paid and unpaid. This will show you what portion of your bills are being used for personal expenses and which are being used for other purposes.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If you see that you are the victim of theft, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance companies will freeze your credit so that they can assess the true damage and initiate the proper action. You should also get in touch with your local police department or the local state police so that they can be notified of the theft as soon as possible.
Cut Your Offices Insurance Policies
Many criminals go to great lengths to ensure that their crimes are not discovered. That is why many insurance companies will make it very difficult for you to cancel your accounts. If you have taken many of your child’s identity theft insurance policies, it is likely that your insurance will be canceled unless you give them a reason. For example, they may not be allowing you to use the cards because they do not belong to you. Therefore, cut all insurance policies and save yourself from further stress and embarrassment.
Finally – Report the Crime
It is also very important that you report the crime if you think that it has been perpetrated against you. Most people are too afraid to call law enforcement about child identity theft or tax identity theft because they are embarrassed. However, in all cases, if you suspect that someone else has committed a crime against you, contact law enforcement right away. Reporting the crime will help you to apprehend the criminal and bring him to justice. If you do not report the crime, it might never get solved.