Victims of Identity theft are often the recipients of bank accounts they didn’t open, credit cards they didn’t apply for and purchases they didn’t order. These victims incur financial losses anywhere from $1 to a $1million – and that”s minus a spoilt name.
Ways to People have found out about Identity Theft.
Having become victim to identity theft, the first way most people find out is been notified of a rejected credit facility due to problems with credit rating. For persons who’ve always paid on time this could come as a surprise.
Receiving a Call from a Debt Collection Agency
Identity thieves will more often than not use a stolen identity to collect loans, mortgages or withdraw funds from the owners’ bank accounts. Once credit fraudulently collected becomes overdue, the lender may request a partner debt collection agency to try and retrieve such funds.
In summary, you should start thinking towards Identity Theft if you receive a call claiming you owe money you never borrowed.
You check your mails and see a package claiming you’ve rented an apartment or paid for something you know nothing about.
Preventing Identity Theft
There’s really no way of preventing Identity Theft cause the leak might come from a lot of leaks you have little control over – financial institutions you’ve done business with, retailers you’ve purchased from, past and present employers, trash cans, and public databases.
1. Don’t Give Away your Personal Information Unnecessarily
When you get a call from someone claiming to represent a company, and requesting for your personal information, you should ask for a written application if you haven’t done business with such party in the past.
2. Shred Documents before Trashing them
Dumpster diving occurs when a thief goes through the garbage in search of documents that might reveal a bit of people’s identity. These documents include credit card statements, credit reports, bank statements, medical bills, expired drivers’ licenses etc. The bulk of these documents are paper-made and there’ll be a greater good achieved when you shred such documents before throwing them into the trash can.
3. Check your Financial Information Regularly
If you don’t already receive copies of your bank account statement and credit card statement, you should immediately contact your bank and card issuer to mail you these statements. Scrutinize such statements, checking for transactions you did not authorize.
4. Check your Credit Report from time to time
You should also ask to receive a copy of your credit report from time to time. Your credit report contains all financial accounts opened under your name – this should reveal to you any accounts created without your permission.
Register with an Identity Protection Service
For only a few dollars per month, Identity Protection Services like LifeLock, and IdentityGuard will monitor credit on your behalf – they have other packages to help protect a whole family including the kids. You’ll get notified on every thing having to do with your credit.
How to Report Identity Theft
1. According to the Department of Justice, the first thing you should do is contact the Federal Trade Commission whether online or by visiting a local office nearest to you and file an Identity Theft compliant. Identity theft is a federal law and as such, the Department of Justice, FBI, Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are in charge of trying ID Theft cases.
2. Notify the Credit Bureaus by calling these numbers:
Equifax: Call (888) 766-0008,
Experian: (888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
TransUnion: (800) 680-7289; Email TransUnion on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Explain your situation and request a fraud alert is in place meaning creditors will have to contact you before extending credit.
3. Contact your local police department to obtain a Police Report – this will be represented to financial institutions who want verification of the crime.
4. Contact all financial institutions with whom you have accounts
To get additional information on reporting and recovering from Identity theft, visit the following pages:
How to defend against Identity Theft by FTC