What can be done with this information?
This stolen information is used for many purposes including
- Obtain and use credit cards from the victim
- Use victims credit to purchase items through loans
- Obtain utilities in the victims name
- Use victims information to have a "second life"
How will you know if you are a victim?
You may be notified that you are a victim in several ways. In some cases, credit card companies will contact you for either suspicious activity on your existing accounts or saying that you have not paid a bill for a credit card you have never applied for. In other cases law enforcement may notify you saying that you are a victim. Most identity thieves have numerous victims not just one.
How can you prevent being a victim?
There are several ways that you can help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft. These include
- Shred all documents and mail that have your identification before throwing them away. This includes all pre-approved credit card applications, bank statements and bills.
- Check your credit report at least annually for any suspicious activity.
- Promptly report all lost or stolen credit cards.
- Keep your Social Security Card in a secure location and don't carry it with you.
- Don't give out your information over the phone to callers regardless of who they say they are.
- Monitor your credit card statements for unauthorized activity.
- If purchasing items on the Internet, use only secured sites. (Secured means that the transaction is protected by security software.
- Be aware of when your bills should arrive and notify the businesses if they do not arrive. A common method of obtaining information is by mail theft.
- Drop all outgoing mail in a secured or locked drop box instead of an open mailbox to prevent it from being stolen.
- Notify law enforcement IMMEDIATELY if you suspect you are a victim.
What you need to do if you suspect you are a victim?
The moment you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, you should do the following
- Notify your local law enforcement.
- Get a complete credit check on yourself as well as others in your home and tell them you are a victim of identity theft.
- Notify all of your credit card companies and other debtors of your situation so that they can assist you with maintaining your current bills.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-IDTHEFT.
- Contact your local United States Postal Inspection Service. (www.usps.gov/postalinspectors)
- Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline 1-800-269-0271.
How can you get your credit report?
Contact one of these three credit bureaus for your full report.