Things You Need To Know About Identity Theft
- Identity theft is a crime committed that steals the personal identity of an individual. This includes personal information such as full name and social security number; this information is used to commit fraud.
- The information that were stolen from a person are used to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes or get medical services.
- Acts of identity theft can significantly affect your credit score and status, can cost you money and time and taint your otherwise clean name.
- Victims of identity theft do not immediately know that they are indeed victims until questionable bills arrive.
- Even children have ID’s and are at risk for identity theft, it is usually unnoticed until the child reaches adulthood and the damage has been done: Child ID Theft
- When your social security number is stolen and taxes are filed without your knowledge: Tax ID Theft.
- When your health insurance identity is stolen (Medicare ID or health insurance number and information) and it is used for medical services: Medical ID Theft
- Seniors are the most vulnerable group that is the usual victim of identity theft: Senior ID theft
- When someone steals your personal information including pictures and posts it on social media: Social ID Theft.
How To Prevent Identity Theft
- Ensure that your personal information such as social security number is protected. Only give it out when necessary
- If your personal information is suspiciously being asked from you via phone, mail or online. Never give out anything.
- When out on the streets and typing passwords on machines such as ATMs, watch out for ‘shoulder surfers’ or those people who tries to look over your shoulders.
- If you are planning an out of town trip, ask your local post office not to leave your mail in your mailbox.
- Be wary of the bills sent to you. Late billing statements should be followed up immediately.
- Always review your receipts and bills, watch out for questionable transactions made under your name.
- Before disposing papers that have your information such as billing statements, old IDs and credit cards; make sure you shred it before throwing.
- Documents containing personal information should be kept safely at home and at work.
- Install licensed and original firewalls and virus-detection software on your computer.
- Make sure you create complicated and complex passwords that cannot be guessed easily.
- Check your credit report once a year to make sure that no new accounts have been opened. If you are suspecting identity theft, you check it more frequently.
How To Report Identity Theft
- If you are a victim of identity theft, immediately report and complain it to the Federal Trade Commission or you local police department.
- You will be given an ID theft affidavit once you file the ID theft with the FTC.
- Print the affidavit and file a criminal case with your local police and obtain a police report.
- Your ID theft affidavit and the police report together are your identity theft report.
- Your identity theft report is very important because you will show this to your creditors, banks and other systems where a fraudulent account has been made under your name.
- Here are 3 other agencies where you can report specific cases of identity theft:
- Long term care identity theft: If the theft happened during your stay in a nursing care home or any long term facility, you can report a claim to the long term care ombudsman
- Financial Institutions: contact the department or agency where you have your accounts. You may need to present you Identity theft report.
- Retailers and other companies: for fraudulent job applications and accounts such as credit card accounts; you can call the attention of the company where your name was registered.
- State Consumer Protection offices or Attorney General
- For tips and other information regarding identity theft; you may check on the Federal Trade Commission publication which is Taking Charge-What To Do If Your Identity is Stolen (PDF, Download Adobe Reader)
Synthetic Identity Theft
In traditional identity theft, all of your information is stolen, in Synthetic identity theft which is the newer version of the crime; vital information from different people are stolen to create a new identity.
Synthetic ID theft is more difficult to detect that the traditional crime because the fraud is not only done to one person. Children’s social security number is the most common victims of this kind of crime.
There is no way to prevent synthetic ID theft, however; you should still obtain copies of your credit report and report any account that seems suspicious to you. You can report cases like these to the Federal Trade Commission.
Tax-Related Identity Theft
- Warning signs of tax related identity theft:
- Your SSN has more than one tax return
- You owe additional questionable tax
- IRS records wages from unknown employer
- What to do:
- E-mails claiming to be from IRS should not be opened, instead; report it to the IRS immediately
- For tips are alerts, you can check S. tax season phishing scams and malware campaigns which was released by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
- How to deal with tax related identity theft:
- Respond immediately with IRS notice
- File a report at your local office
- File a complaint with the FTC
- Check with the Social Security Administration for SSN information
- Contact one of the three major credit card agencies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion
- Close tampered accounts
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF, Download Adobe Reader)
- Continue to pay your taxes