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What To Do If Your Identity is Stolen

Who makes a good target for identity theft? EVERYONE! By accessing personal information, fraudsters can empty bank accounts, open new accounts, apply for loans, and more. It is important to understand what identity theft is, how to protect yourself, and what to do if your identity is stolen.

WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?

Identity theft refers to any crime where someone’s personal identifying information is stolen and used for financial gain. Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing financial crimes in America, accounting for billions of dollars lost every year.

WHO ARE ITS VICTIMS?

Identity thieves are equal-opportunity offenders. Nearly one out of every five people (18%) have been victims of identity theft. 

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR IDENTITY HAS BEEN STOLEN?

Most identity theft victims are aware of the crime within two weeks, sometimes days. You might be a victim of identity theft if you receive denials for loan applications or debt collection calls for accounts or loans you didn’t open. Other common signs of identity theft could be unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account, unfamiliar charges on your credit card or receiving a credit monitoring alert.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MY IDENTITY?

  • Keep your personal information secure
  • Monitor credit reports, bank statements and credit accounts
  • Ask questions before sharing information
  • Strengthen passwords
  • Be cautious of unknown calls, texts or emails
  • Be savvy with social media (keep personal information private, set strict privacy settings, know your friends and connections)
  • Click with caution
  • Shred documents containing PII

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT?

If you are a victim of identity theft, you can report it online to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.identitytheft.gov . By creating an IdentityTheft.gov account, you’ll get documentation that shows your identity was stolen as well as a personal recovery plan with recommended steps to take to restore your identity. These may include:

  • Call your financial institution(s) as well as any company where you know fraud occurred to report your identity compromise
  • Set up a free fraud alert with one of the following credit bureaus – that bureau must notify the other two -
  • Experian: 888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 888-909-8872
  • Equifax: 800-685-1111

Good to Know: When a fraud alert is placed (typically for one year, but can an alert can stretch out to seven years), anyone who receives a credit application in your name should contact you to verify your identity before extending credit. This will ensure you are the only one affecting your credit.

Contact ChexSystems (800-428-9623) and request an ID theft alert on your debit file. You can also have them check for any recent inquiries made under your name or social security number. Request a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com and review for discrepancies.

Notify law enforcement and file a victim statement. Ask for a copy of the report to help you close accounts opened in your name and remove unauthorized charges from your accounts. This, along with your identity theft report will prove to businesses that someone stole your identity.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, please contact us at 800-650-6328. We’re here to help!

For more tips on how to best protect yourself from fraud click here


Hunter Morrison

Hunter Morrison

About Hunter Morrison

Hunter has freelanced for various print and radio publications across Northwest Florida, including The Bay Beacon, Navarre Press, Inweekly, Crestview News Bulletin, and WUWF. He was also the Editor in Chief of the University of West Florida’s student newspaper, The Voyager. In 2023, Hunter moved to Kenai, Alaska to take up a news reporting position with KDLL Public Radio. For fun, Hunter enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, photography, thrifting, traveling, and looking for the best Thai food around. 

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