You receive unauthorized authentication messages by text or email for unknown accounts. The more information you put out there about yourself, whether on social media or by saving your details on an e-commerce site, the more data there is for hackers to steal and then sell on the dark web for other thieves to use.
Thieves rely on old-fashioned theft, too, such as stealing a purse or wallet or taking mail from a home mailbox. But when they do go with higher-tech options, it is often through card skimming on ATMs and gas pumps, phishing emails to get you to hand over details through a scam, or through unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
While no one can totally prevent identity theft from happening, you can take steps that will minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Set up an Informed Delivery account through the United States Postal Service.
Switch to a locked mailbox for deliveries or rent a post office box. The quizzes and questionnaires might be fun to fill out, but they provide information about you that identity thieves can use.
Remember, nothing is truly private on the internet, no matter how good your social media privacy settings are. If you find something is amiss, consider locking or freezing your credit or setting up a fraud alert to let possible future lenders know you've been a victim of identity theft, so they can take extra measures to verify your identity.
Identity theft is a crime, so contact your local police department. While authorities may not be able to do much, they can take reports and be on the alert for suspicious behavior that could involve your name or address.
It can take months and many hours of filling out forms and working with agencies and businesses to recover your identity once it is stolen. Recognizing the signs of identity theft and taking steps to prevent it can save you months and years of heartache, stress and loss.
Identity theft usually goes undetected until well after the damage is done, which is one thing that makes it so scary. Read on to learn about ten red flags that indicate you may be a victim of identity theft.
You’ve received medical bills for services you didn’t use. This is a major warning sign of medical identity theft, which costs the healthcare industry up to $247 billion a year according to the FBI.
Your health insurance denies a medical claim because they’re showing you’ve already reached your benefits limit. In this case, it’s your responsibility to notify your bank or credit card company about the fraudulent activity and get them to reimburse you.
The IRS notifies you that multiple tax returns were filed in your name. An identity thief who wants your tax return is a strong possibility.
You receive a 1099 or other tax information from an employer you don’t work for. Your health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
Yahoo, Target, and Chase are a few companies affected by data breaches in recent years. Sometimes these hacks make the news, and it’s always a good idea to pay attention when the story breaks.
If you come to the conclusion that someone has indeed stolen your identity, it’s not too late to do damage control. This will send a red flag to notify lenders they need to take extra steps to verify your identity before approving credit.
Call one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax) and they will all get the message from there. Relished’s Identity Theft Protection will get your life back in order quickly and smoothly.
Whatever the case, here’s a 4-step process to follow to find out who stole your identity and caused you so much aggravation. As a victim of identity theft, you’re entitled to receive your credit reports free of charge.
The next step in finding out who stole your Social Security number or who misused your personal data, is to file an ID Theft Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But they do enter your complaint into the FTC’s Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, which law enforcement officers can search as part of their criminal investigations.
Make multiple copies of your ID Theft Complaint and store it away in a safe place. Under Section 609(e) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if you request it in writing, you are entitled to receive all information about fraudulent accounts and unauthorized transactions that were made in your name.
By law, this information must be supplied to you free of charge and the companies must reply to you within 30 days of your written request. Once you receive all the paperwork from the businesses fooled by the fraudster, look for patterns and clues into who stole your identity or Social Security number.
But if the crook who stole your identity turns out to be a total stranger, chalk it up to bad luck: With 10 million cases happening every year, you were simply a random victim of identity theft, the fastest-growing white collar crime in America. This article is a condensed version of a special, in-depth report created for victims of identity theft.
The special report contains detailed information about each one of the steps outlined above, additional tips on how to notify the IRS when your Social Security number has been misused; specific contact information of all the agencies you need to contact; and two sample letters you can use to help you recovery from ID Theft. This letter is a template you can use to legally obtain detailed records from each and every company that the identity thief did business with when they used your name, credit or Social Security number.
The website will give you a recovery plan with steps you can take to help protect yourself from further identity theft. The IRS will never call, text, e-mail, or contact you on social media for personal or bank account information including for the stimulus payment.
Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the government’s one-stop resource for people to report identity theft and get a personal recovery plan. You can include a personal statement too, to tell the IRS details about how your identity was misused to claim your economic impact payment.
They’re fake, and they may be phishing for your personal information or might download malware to your computer, tablet, or phone. Sign up for a Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex credit card to get: 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12k spent in your first year, in addition to cash back rates for typical categories.
ID theft is a crime that can destroy your credit and reputation and lead to financial ruin. Additionally, 67% of respondents stated that they were concerned for their financial future after having their identities stolen, and 7% even considered suicide.
According to Lifelong, the three age groups that are targeted the most frequently are children, college-aged students, and the elderly. Analysts for Wallet compared cases of identity theft in all 50 states and the District of Columbia using metrics such as average loss amount.
If you don’t mind endless amber waves of grain, Iowa is a great place to live if you want to avoid having your identity stolen. Health institutions and retailers are also frequent targets because they store consumer information.
In 2017, The Washington Post reported on an Equifax data breach that put the personal information of 147.9 million consumers at risk. Email scams are another popular technique thieves use to gain access to your personal information.
Criminals might steal your mail, especially credit card applications, bank statements, and health records. According to Javelin’s 2017 report, online shopping presents the greatest risk for identity theft.
Thieves sift through garbage bins looking for personal information you’ve thrown away. Chances are the school has immunization records, or even Social Security numbers, on file somewhere.
Typically, dealers attach your last credit report to your car loan application, or they have this information on file electronically. You’re also at risk from all of your previous employers, who have your Social Security number, past addresses, and financial information, such as retirement or 401k accounts.
Keep in mind that an identity thief doesn’t have to be a full-time hacker or someone with a long criminal record. They might steal information and resell it to other criminals, or they might simply decide to take advantage of a file left open on a desk.
Hackers will often run small “test charges” on your credit card to see if they go through and get noticed. If you suspect someone has stolen your identity, it’s essential that you act immediately to put a stop to it.
Thieves work as fast as possible to rack up charges before the victim discovers what has happened, so the sooner you act, the less damage you’ll incur. Typically, fraudulent activity is first discovered in connection with a bank account or credit card.
If you suspect someone else has gained access to these accounts, call each institution and alert them to the activity. You also need to go through past statements and look for suspicious charges; this can help you determine when the thief initially accessed your information.
Your next step is to contact one of the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. A fraud alert is like a red flag for creditors; it lets other companies know that you’re a victim of identity theft and that they should take extra steps to investigate anyone who’s trying to obtain credit using your information.
The FTC will develop a recovery plan tailored to your unique situation and even provide pre-written letters and forms you can use to file a police report or dispute charges with other companies or institutions. Keep in mind that some officials will require that you file a report in the county where the crime occurred, if you know where that is.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your information and reduce your risk of identity theft. But regularly monitoring your credit report is a good way to spot fraudulent activity.
Only one website is approved by the Federal Government to provide your free annual credit report: AnnualCreditReport.com. To do this, you’ll have to contact each credit reporting agency individually and request an account freeze.
According to Security magazine, an average business professional keeps track of 191 passwords. You have passwords for work, for personal use, for your family… once you start to tally them up, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by their sheer number.
However, you should be changing your passwords several times a year, especially for any accounts linked to your bank or credit cards. According to data protection firm Digital Guardian, 44% of Americans change their passwords once a year or less.
A great way to keep your personal information secure is to be sure to change your passwords every three months. For a monthly or yearly fee, these companies will monitor your credit reports, Social Security number, and other personal information and alert you if any new accounts are opened under your name or if they spot suspicious activity.
These services can help you catch identity theft early on, and they provide invaluable support to guide you through the process of recovery if it happens. AAA Identity Theft Protection The cost of AAA’s Identity Theft Protection program varies depending on which tier you choose, and compared to other companies, it’s fairly affordable.
The Basic package is free for AAA Premier members, but monitoring is limited to Experian only. The Deluxe package is $10.95 per month and offers expanded services, including monitoring of all three credit reporting agencies and Social Security number monitoring, as well as dark web surveillance, new account alerts, change of address alerts, and bank account and credit card takeover alerts.
Standard protection is $8.99 per month and includes Social Security and credit alerts, lost wallet protection, address change verification, reduced pre-approved credit card offers, black market website surveillance, 24/7 support, and $1 million in insurance with $25,000 allocated for stolen funds reimbursement. Advantage protection is $17.99 per month and includes all the services above, as well as fictitious identity monitoring, court records scanning, data breach notifications, one credit bureau credit report, credit card alerts, checking and saving account alerts, and insurance with $100,000 allocated for stolen funds reimbursement.
As you can see, Lifelong is not cheap, but you can often find coupon codes for 10% off if you check sites like Derailment. Seniors are often prone to ID theft through email and phishing scams.
Since their generation didn’t grow up with this technology, they might have a hard time telling the difference between a legitimate email and a phishing scam. Talk to the seniors in your life and make sure they know the signs of a typical email scam.
Typically, government agencies don’t use email as an initial point of contact. Children are at high risk for ID theft because they have a clean slate.
They have a Social Security number, but because they don’t have credit cards and bank accounts, it can be years before parents discover that their child’s identity has been stolen. Another way to stay safe is to periodically read up on the current scams and ruses thieves are using to gain access to personal information.
After reading the horror stories from victims who’ve had their lives destroyed by ID theft, I froze all my credit reports and did the same for my children. It’s sobering to think about how quickly a thief can steal your money and ruin your reputation; today, it just takes a few keystrokes.
However, taking a few preventive measures like freezing your credit reports and periodically changing your passwords can go a long way toward keeping your assets, and your reputation, safe.