How do you know if your identity has been stolen? You may notice a strange
charge on your credit card statement. You may get turned down for a loan. You
may get a call from a bill collector about an account you didn't know you had. There are hundreds of ways you can be affected and, by the time you find out, it could take years of legal wrangling to clear your credit and your name. ... [More]
Just wants the tips? Here they are in a nutshell (for more details, read the sidebar: 10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft):
- Opt out of credit card pre-approval offers.
- Destroy documents that could be used to access your credit. (Tearing up the application and throwing it away is not enough.)
- Check your credit report regularly.
- Don't give out your personal information on the phone or in an email, and never post it online. 5.) Monitor your credit card statements.
- Don't reply to emails from people you don't know asking for personal information.
- Don't leave your bills in your mailbox.
- Create hard-to-guess passwords.
- Never take your Social Security card with you.
- Be careful when using your credit card or your ATM card.
What if it happens to you anyway? The FTC recommends that you do the following immediately:
- Contact one the three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Close the account that you know has been affected or opened fraudulently, and follow up with the company to dispute the transaction or account.
- File a complaint with the FTC.
- File a report with your local police and with the police in the community where the fraud took place.