Identity theft is one of the most frustrating occurrences to deal with. It transpires when someone deliberately uses your identity for his or her own financial gain. While there are a variety of forms of identity theft, the most common is financial identity theft. Others may include medical or even criminal identity theft. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on financial identity theft.
So where do we begin? Well, here are a few considerations to keep in mind when you
believe you have been the victim of identity theft.
1. Identity Thieves Goals
So you got your identity stolen. What does that mean? Here a few things identity thieves look to steal:
- Your personal information. Keep reading to discover what personal
information could include.
- If they retrieve your social security number, they may attempt to open up
credit card accounts in your name. This could damage your credit report
since the thieves will not pay for anything they buy using the credit card.
- They may authorize money transfers through the ATM in your name.
- Take out an auto loan in your name in order to buy a car.
- In rare situations, they may even provide your name to authorities in the
event they are arrested.
2. How They Steal your Information
Thieves can steal your information almost from anywhere you carry personal information.
The most common examples of where you keep personal information includes your
wallet and purse. Another common example is your mailbox. On your way to work, personal information may be even hidden inside your briefcase as well. Even your computer at home and at work always contains personally identifiable information. Therefore, assure that you keep your personal information safe, no matter where it may be.
3. What Type of Information Will Thieves Steal
If your personal information ends up in the wrong hands, it could be detrimental to you. But what information do identity thieves typically target? Here is a list, just to name a few: (1) Name, (2) Address, (3) Date of birth, (4) Social security numbers, (5) Pin numbers used for debit and credit cards, (5) Passwords, (6) Checkbook, (7) Passport, (8) Birth Certificate, (9) Estate planning documents, i.e. wills, power of attorney, and (10) Personal Items. And much much more.
4. What Should I Do if I believe Someone has Stolen my Identity
If you believe, more likely than not, that you have been the victim of identity theft, there are a few actions you must undertake.
First, you should place a fraud alert with one of the credit reporting agencies’. Call as soon as you find out of this fraud. Most agencies offer free protection and will assure you that you are not financially responsible for any charges on your account.
Second, you should contact your bank and insurance companies. When you get in touch with them, notify them of the situation. Then you should subsequently close your accounts and open up new ones with different access codes.
Finally, you should file a police report. Identity theft is a crime and a police report will be proof of that, thus it is essential to proving that you have been the victim of fraud.
5. How can I Avoid Identity Theft in the Future
Now that you know what identity theft is and how to combat it when it happens to you, you should take the time to understand how to avoid it in the future. Here are a few closing tips to help you avoid identity theft:
- Protect your personal information. Do not give it out. If you do give it out, it should be to someone you trust.
- Prevent potential thieves from reaching you. Remove yourself from certain mailing lists in order to reduce thieves trying to reach you over email. Take the further step and try to avoid all telemarketer calls.
- Protect your computer and personal belongings carrying personal information. Install firewalls and antivirus software on your computer. And do not be careless with your wallet and purse in public.
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There you have it. You will never be the victim of identity theft. And now you know how to avoid it as well.