How To Know If Your Identity Has Been Stolen – Just because you’re very careful with your personal data doesn’t mean you’re immune to identity theft. Even if you have a data breach at your bank or other company you do business with, your data is compromised anyway. Furthermore, identity theft is stealthy by its very nature. Identity thieves can go undetected for months until you stumble upon an intrusion.
When your identity is stolen, standard practice is to block all your accounts and logins and notify your bank, Social Security office, IRS or other agencies you believe have been compromised. Then change the passwords for everything. But figuring out if you’re a victim of identity theft in the first place can be tricky. The surest way to detect a personal data breach is to run a full background check on yourself and look at the results of activities you may not have done.
How To Know If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
In 2017, credit reporting agency Equifax suffered a data breach. It affected 143 million consumers, prompting a massive government effort to contain the damage. This resource on USA.gov is a step-by-step guide for anyone affected by this incident, but generally the same rules apply to any data breach recovery. The FTC has additional steps for data breach victims.
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However, not all identity theft is so obvious. A common scenario is when a thief breaks the law and hits you. If you start getting warrants or summonses for charges or tickets you don’t have, that’s another sign of identity theft.
If you run a full background check and find false positives, it’s not always a sign of identity theft. If this is an incident, there may be an error. One in five have an error on their credit report. Of course, whatever the reason, it’s best to eliminate these mistakes while you’re at it.
A credit freeze or fraud alert is something you place with the three credit reporting agencies. This creates a flag on your identity that forces them to recheck applications to open new accounts or apply for lines of credit on your behalf. Your phone and utility companies should also know, because a utility bill showing proof of address is a common method of identity verification.
“Forewarned is forewarned.” The USA.gov website has an impressive collection of articles on common scams and scams and tips for avoiding them. A new development is healthcare fraud, which has become a frequent attack vector.
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In general, most methods of protecting yourself from identity theft are fairly simple. These include protecting your privacy and never giving them your data unless you know they have a good reason to ask. It’s about avoiding making yourself an easy target.
Sophia is a contributor to The Hack Post who enjoys writing about technology. In his spare time he likes to read books and swim. If your Social Security number has been stolen, report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and the police, freeze your credit report, and contact companies you suspect may have your SSN due to fraud.
Through December 31, 2022, TransUnion and Equifax will offer free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to all U.S. consumers to help protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardships caused by COVID-19.
If your Social Security Number (SSN) has been stolen, you need to act quickly to minimize the damage fraudsters can do. It is important to report the theft to the appropriate authorities and protect your credit and personal information. You must then take additional steps to further protect your identity.
What Happens If Your Car Is Broken Into?
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data compromises in the US will increase by 68% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Cyberattacks in particular are becoming more common, putting SSNs and other personal information at greater risk of being stolen and ultimately used in fraud. Here are the steps you should take if your SSN and related information is compromised.
The first step should be to report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a police report. When you visit the Social Security Administration website, you will be directed to the FTC’s website, IdentityTheft.gov, where you can report one or more of the following scams involving your SSN:
Next, you will receive information about the next steps you need to take, including filling out additional forms and obtaining a recovery plan. For tax-related identity theft, which usually involves your SSN, you may need to complete an Identity Theft Statement or Form 14039.
After reporting the theft to the FTC, file a police report in your local jurisdiction. While your city or county may not be able to investigate this crime immediately (or at all), having a police report can serve as documentation in your identity recovery and resolution efforts.
How To Know (and Check) If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report and helps prevent fraudsters from opening new accounts, renting apartments or applying for loans in your name. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score and you can freeze and update your credit report at any time moment.
You must freeze and freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus individually (TransUnion and Equifax).
If you believe your SSN may have been stolen, but there is no evidence that fraud has occurred, you can place a fraud alert on your credit report instead of a credit freeze. Rather than restricting access to your credit report, a fraud alert requires credit-checking companies to verify your identity before issuing credit on your behalf.
Placing a fraud alert with one credit bureau extends the alert to all three. It will not affect your credit score.
Id Verification Badge
If your information is being used to create fraudulent accounts, you should contact each company involved. For example, if your SSN was used to open bank or credit accounts in your name, contact each company and explain that you are a victim of identity theft. They can close your accounts so that the identity thief can no longer use the accounts.
If someone uses your information to create fraudulent identification records, you should contact all relevant agencies, including the IRS, the Social Security Administration, and your secretary of state, who handle fraudulent identification cases.
Next, continuous surveillance and security is the name of the game. For example, review your Social Security report for suspicious activity to see if someone else is using your Social Security number for employment purposes.
Get into the habit of regularly checking your online bank accounts and credit cards for suspicious activity. You should also monitor your credit report, driving records and insurance records.
Protect Your Personal Information From Identity Theft & Privacy…
Finding out you’ve been the victim of identity theft can be upsetting and disappointing. Identity thieves are getting smarter every day, and the likelihood that your personal information will be exposed continues to grow. The good news is that there are plenty of tools at your disposal to reduce the risk of identity theft and protect your Social Security number and other personal information.
Credit monitoring can help you identify potential identity fraud early and prevent surprises when applying for credit. Get daily notifications when updates are found.
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Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask. To dispute the information on your personal credit report, follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report should include relevant contact information, including a website address, a toll-free phone number, and a mailing address.
Be Proactive: Protect Your Identity With Identity Theft Insurance
To submit a dispute online, go to the Dispute Center. If you have an up-to-date copy of your personal credit report, enter the report number in the space provided and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal statement, you will receive a free copy when you submit the requested information. Plus, you can get a copy of your report once a week until December 31, 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.
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