Every year, thousands of people discover out of the blue that they have been the victims of identity theft. With everything being computerized and information much more obtainable than ever before, it’s no wonder more and more people are having problems and having to fight against identity theft. What, however, is identity theft, how do you keep yourself safe from it, and what do you do if you have been involved in it?
What Is Identity Theft
Identity theft is the term used to describe a type of fraud. It occurs when someone gets your private information and, in essence, pretends to be you. They may not dress up and look like you, but they may use the information that they have on you in order to do something illegal. Financial identity theft is when the criminal takes over your identification in order to take money out of your bank accounts or to open up new credit accounts, making the bills due to you. You may also be a victim of criminal identity theft, where your identification becomes a new identification for a criminal who uses it to commit a crime so that they can stay hidden and beneath the radar of the police. This can cause a huge problem if you have a background check run on you and the person running it believes you are responsible for crimes that you know nothing about.
If You Are a Victim
If you are a victim of identity theft, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. There are thousands of people who fall pretty to identity thieves all the time. Once you have begun to breathe again, act fast. The faster you act, the less of a chance the thief will have to make more use of your identity. The first thing to do is to contact the credit agency where you first noticed the discrepancy. Most of these lending agencies have steps in place that they can take for someone who has had their identity stolen, preventing the thief from using a credit card in your name again and making sure that you are not responsible for paying the amounts already due on the card. Even banks have procedures set in place to limit the amount of damage. You will then want to speak with the authorities and to open a case so that the police and discover who stole your identity.
If you want to keep your identity safe, make sure you safeguard your social security number and keep track of your credit report, as it is there you will be able to find any discrepancies quickly. Also, shred everything that comes in the mail for you that could be used against you, such as any credit card offers and credit statements. Also, make sure you never give your credit card number of any personal information over the phone or online unless you are sure that it is a secure company you are dealing with.