What is Identify Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make - or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports.
How can I find out if my identity was stolen?
The best way to find out is to monitor your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft. For more information, visit the Detect Identity Theft section.
Unfortunately, many consumers learn that their identity has been stolen after some damage has been done.
- You may find out when bill collection agencies contact you for overdue debts you never incurred.
- You may find out when you apply for a mortgage or car loan and learn that problems with your credit history are holding up the loan.
- You may find out when you get something in the mail about an apartment you never rented, a house you never bought, or a job you never held.
What should I do if my identity is stolen?
Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name. To learn more about these steps and more, visit the DEFEND: Recover from Identity Theft section on the FTCs website.
Above information regarding Identify Theft is taken from “Deter. Defect. Defend. Avoid ID Theft” the Federal Trade Commission’s website dedicated to educating consumers about Identify Theft. To learn more, please visit their website.