Identity Theft & PreventionSubmitted by Canty Financial Management on July 5th, 2018
Identity theft is occurring at an all time high. Technological growth has made it much easier for hackers to access our classified information. It is now more essential than ever that your personal information is kept confidential. The following post serves as a guide as how to handle identity theft, and the steps you can take to prevent it from happening in the first place.
I believe my identity has possibly been compromised. What do I do?
- Notify any companies or institutions where you know the fraud occurred
Dispute the charges and ask to lock the account immediately. Banks typically have a department devoted to investigating identity theft
If the companies or institutions cannot resolve your issue:
- Place a fraud alert with a National Credit Reporting Agency
Do not immediately do this if the ID theft event happened recently because creditors report to CRA’s monthly. If you noticed the ID theft right as it happened, wait 30 days or more before ordering a report, so you don’t miss a transaction that hasn’t been reported to the CRA’s yet. Placing a fraud alert gives you the right to a free credit report from each credit reporting agency. Once received, review your credit report very closely for anything that seems unfamiliar or suspicious. Dispute the charges immediately with the financial institution itself or with the credit bureau.
If the credit reporting agencies cannot resolve your issue:
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission
You can do this by going to the FTC’s website and filling out the ID theft complaint and affidavit form. Make sure to print out the forms for your records. The FTC will provide you with information about what to do next, depending on the type of fraud that was committed.
- File a police report where you believe the identity theft took place
Your police report and FTC Identity Theft Affidavit combine to make your Identity Theft Report. To complete the Identity Theft Report, you’ll need to contact your local law enforcement office and report the theft. Be sure to get a copy of the police report and/or the report number.
How can I prevent my identity from being stolen in the future?
- Keep your Social Security number (SSN) in a private and secure place
Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Do not respond to unsolicited requests for personal information
Do not give out your name, birth date, Social Security number, or bank account number by phone, mail, or online.
- Monitor your credit card and bank account statements
Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards
When disposing these documents it is important to make them illegible to ensure that they do not end up in the wrong hands.
- Safeguard all your computers by having firewalls and virus-detection software installed
Computer hacking has become a major issue in our society. It is essential that your computers cyber security is up to date to protect all of your confidential information.
- Review your credit report once a year to be certain that it doesn't include accounts that you have not opened.