Identity Theft Situations
One of the more prevailing trends in policing is the increase in one’s theft of their identity. The crime has no boundaries and can happen to anyone.
Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.
Most people who experience identity theft must take several steps to recover. www.identitytheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. The site provides step-by-step advice and helpful resources like easy to print checklists and sample letters. If you believe that someone is using your personal information, visit www.identitytheft.gov.
There are many ways that you might discover that someone is using your information. You might get a notice from the IRS or find unfamiliar accounts on your credit report. You might notice strange withdrawals from your bank account, get bills that aren’t yours, or get calls about debts that you don’t owe. If you see one of these warning signs of identity theft, act quickly. Taking the following steps will help you limit the damage.
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report.
- Report the identity theft to the FTC (steps how can be found on www.identitytheft.gov)
- File a report with your local police department.
Then, take a deep breath and begin to repair the damage. Depending on your situation, your next step might be closing accounts opened in your name, or reporting fraudulent charges to your credit card company.
If Your Info is Lost or Stolen
Did you get a notice that says a company lost your personal information in a data breach? Did you lose your wallet? Or learn that an online account was hacked? There are steps you should take to help protect yourself from identity theft, depending on what type of information was compromised.
What information was lost or stolen?
Social Security Number
Don’t believe anyone who calls and says you’ll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt-even if they have part or all of your Social Security number, or they say they’re from the IRS.
Online Login or Password
Log in to that account and change your password. If possible, also change your username. If you can’t log in, contact the company. Ask them how you can recover or shut down the account.
Debit or Credit Card Number
Contact your bank or credit card company to cancel your card and request a new one.
Bank Account Information
Contact your bank to close the account and open a new one.
Review your transactions regularly to make sure no one misused your account. If you find fraudulent charges or withdrawals, call the fraud department and get them removed.
Protecting Your Identity
While identity theft can happen to anyone, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Here are five ways to make protecting your identity part of your everyday routine:
- Read your credit card and bank statements carefully and often.
- Know your payment due dates. If a bill doesn’t show up when you expect it, look into it.
- Read the statements from your health insurance plan. Make sure the claims paid match the care you got.
- Shred any documents with personal and financial information.
- Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports. If you space them out by ordering one every three months, you will have year-round coverage for free.
Please don’t give out any personal information over the phone or via the internet unless you are absolutely sure of the legitimacy of the requester. When in doubt, call the Fairport Police Department for assistance.