Protect Yo'self Before They Wreck Yo'self!
Keeping track of all personal information can be so overwhelming! But, monitoring your personal information to uncover any problems quickly can help protect you against identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. In The crime takes many forms, such as renting an apartment, obtaining a credit card, or establishing a telephone account in your name. You may not discover the theft until reviewing your credit report or a credit card statement, or worse, until you're contacted by a debt collector.
Some consumers who fall victim to identity theft may lose out on job opportunities; be denied loans for education, housing, or cars. In worst case scenarios, victims may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
Identity theft typically begins with misusing information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. More skilled thieves perform other methods to get your information:
1. Dumpster diving: rummaging through trash searching for bills or other paper with your personal
information on it.
2. Skimming: stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when
processing your card.
3. Phishing: pretending to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up
messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
4. Changing your address: diverting your billing statements to another location by completing a
change of address form.
5. Old-fashioned stealing: stealing wallets, purses, or mail, including bank and credit card
personnel records; or bribe employees who have access.
6. Pretexting: using false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions,
telephone companies, and other sources.
The best ways to protect yourself from identity theft are monitoring your accounts and bank statements each month and checking your credit report on a regular basis. If your identity has been stolen, there are a few tasks to be done. Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore any damage done. A police report that provides specific details of the identity theft is considered an Identity Theft Report, which gives you certain legal rights when it is provided to the three major credit reporting agencies or to companies where the thief misused your information.
Legal rights that can be received through an Identity Theft Report:
- Permanently blocking fraudulent information, such as accounts or addresses, from appearing on your credit report.
- Making sure fraudulent debts do not reappear on your credit reports.
- Preventing a company from continuing to collect any fraudulent debts, or selling them to others for collection.
- Also necessary to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.
In order for a police report to entitle you to any of those legal rights, it must contain specific details about the identity theft. You should file an ID Theft Complaint with the FTC and bring this printed complaint to the police station when you file your police report. (A police report is also necessary to get copies of the thief's application, as well as transaction information from companies that dealt with the thief.)
The length of time that the effects of identity theft may linger depends upon the type of theft, whether the thief sold or passed your information on to other thieves, whether the thief is caught, and problems related to correcting your credit report. Victims should monitor financial records for several months after they discover the crime; and review their credit reports once every three months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter.
All information on this page and much more can be found here.