Identity theft is a crime that can affect all areas of your life, for possibly the rest of your life. Receiving a credit card bill for the money you didn’t spend, for a card that isn’t even yours. Identity thieves take personally identifiable information and then impersonate them. With many methods, it is important to understand the way identities can be stolen, the ways to avoid it and how to respond. Thieves use many ways to steal identities, such as Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, driver’s license numbers, insurance numbers or credit card numbers.
Methods of Identity Theft
- Stealing your bank or credit cards, identification cards, checks, or other financial instruments
- Looking over a shoulder at ATMs, Scanners, when entering your PIN number or credit card numbers
- Gathering public records about you from various official registers.
- Stealing castings of fingers in order to produce your fingerprints.
- Gathering electronic data storage equipment such as flash drives, hard drives, smartphones, and computers that have not been wiped clean
- Bogus schemes
- Electronic methods
- Social method
Forms of Identity Theft
There are many ways for your identity to be compromised, many of which overlap. Financial identity theft is the most common type for people to think of when hearing of identity theft. This type involves stealing another’s personal Social Security Number, credit card number, or other information that allows the thief to access the victim’s money; buying homes, sign up for credit cards and more.
Medical identity theft has the biggest impact, it occurs when someone uses your name or insurance to obtain medical services, change your medical records. Another common example of identity theft is driver’s license theft is where someone gets ahold of an ID that isn’t theirs to sell or use.
Synthetic identification theft has been growing rapidly. Combining personal information whether it is real or fake from multiple people to form a new nonreal person where sometimes all of the victims involved can be affected. In cases where the information is fake, the victim may not see it on their credit score. Children can fall at risk for identity theft partially due to the fact that the child doesn’t check their scores for years.
Your Identity Has Been Stolen, Now What?
First, keep a log of what occurred, hours and expenses. Take notes of correspondences; emails, phone calls, letters. Make sure to include names, dates and contact information. Stop payment on checks. The possibility of a tax reduction on expenses related to theft.
Fill out affidavits with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and possible IRS. If your Social Security number has been stolen and been used by someone other than yourself, the IRS provides an ID theft affidavit or contact the IRS at Identity Protection Specialized Unit by phone.
For identity theft involving checks or checking accounts contact your personal financial institution and report it, request that they notify the check verification service and have them stop payments. Make sure to take these steps as soon as possible, Calling TeleCheck or Certegy. For accounts that have been used fraudulently close all accounts, ask for the closure to be documented as “account closed at customers request” this closure will not negatively reflect your credit report and ask for a fraud dispute form from the companies in which your closing your accounts.
The last step to take is requesting a letter from each company stating that it has closed the disputed accounts and the fraudulent debts. If there are any debt collectors who hound you inform them that you are a victim of identity threat and are not responsible for your bills. Make this known through writing and over the phone including police reports to support your statement. ASk the debt collector to state in writing that you are nor responsible for the debt and that it has been closed if the debt collector doesn’t cooperate consider hiring a lawyer.
Who Should You Contact
- The Police
- The Post Office
- The Social Security Administration
- The US State Department
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Investment fraud
- Phone fraud
- Student Loan fraud
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