The theft of personal identification has become a serious problem and over nine million Americans each year have their personal information stolen. Thieves will find your personal information online, in your garbage or even steal it when you make an application for a new account in a store or for a credit card.
Some thieves may even go so far as to renting an apartment in your name, set up phone service in your name or fill out a credit card application using your personal information. The only way you will know that a thief is using your identity is if a bill collect calls you, you notice extra charges on your credit card or you check your credit report. Not many victims of identity thief can solve the problem quickly. It usually takes hundreds of dollars and many phone calls before the repair is done.
Thieves Steal Your Identity By:
- Dumpster Hunting. They may go through your garbage cans that are outdoors for pick-up or by searching your paperwork at home for your personal information
- Phishing. They may act like they represent a financial company or send phony spam messages online to you so you give up your information
- Address Change. Thieves will send in a change of address to your credit card company
- Stealing. They will steal your wallet or purse from you, your house or car. They will steal pre-approved offers from your mailbox, or your new checks or tax information from you box
- Bribes. Some thieves will go as far as bribing employees to give up large lists of personal information on many different people
- Scanning. Thieves have devices that can scan your credit card that is in your wallet or purse
You Can Fight Back Against Thieves
Learn what to do if your identity is stolen and who you should talk to about your credit cards, checking account and any financial records in case your identity is stolen. Know how information is stolen and being aware is a good defense. There is a lot of information around that will help you prepare yourself and your family in case of identity thief. Read and do research on identity thief so time is not lost wondering what to do in case it happens.
Immediate Steps to Take if Your Identity has been Stolen
- Police Report. File a police report right away
- Creditors. Notify all your creditors of the thief
- Dispute. Any charges on your credit cards that you did not make you should put in dispute
Filing a Police Report
The police report will help you in many ways. You will be filing what is called a Theft Report, which in turn will give you some legal rights to fight back. The report will be given to the three major credit reporting companies or any company where the thief has used your credit. Fraudulent information will be blocked permanently on your credit reports. The fraudulent debts will be kept off your credit reports and companies can not continue to try and collect the debt from you that have been a result of the identity theft. A fraud alert will also be placed on your credit reports. Do not delay in reporting an identity thief. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to get the problem cleared up and your credit repaired.