Nearly 14 million Americans have been victim to one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world, Identity Theft. On average, that’s about 1out of every 18 adults. Credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers,social security numbers, date of birth, and other personal identification can net criminals thousands of dollars in a short time. Most of the times, identity thieves will obtain your personal identification numbers and obtain credit in your name by having credit cards, goods or services delivered to them.
Because the bills are sent to the thief’s address, not yours, you’ll probably be unaware that debt is mounting up in your name until the collections department tracks you down. By the time you actually realize what’s been going on, your credit report will already be trashed. Even worse, credit reporting bureaus will be reluctant to change negative credit without adequate proof that it was not created by you. Identity theft can come in many forms, an illegal immigrant may use your social security number and date of birth for employment purposes orto obtain a birth certificate.Order now
Sometimes personal identification numbers are sold over and over to hundreds of individuals who in turn attempt to obtain bogus credit in your name or establish utility services and run upthe bills. Arrested criminals have been caught using false names, DOBs,and SSNs that belong to innocent people who have discovered that they have criminal records because of a misused ID.
It probably wouldn’t be easy explaining to friend, family, and co-workers that you were mistakenly arrested for an outstanding criminal warrant. Identity theft can take months and sometimes even years to detect andcan take about the same time to correct the damage. According to the California Public Interest Research Group and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, victims of identity theft spend an average of 190 hours and $900 inout-of-pocket costs (not including attorney fees) to fix their wrecked credit problem. There have been cases reported where it has taken victims years to restore their credit and good name, and had problems being able tocash checks, obtain loans or even rent an apartment. Identity theft can significantly traumatize anyone because it is unnerving to know (or not know) the extent of the damage to your name, credit or reputation.
So what can be done to help prevent yourself from becoming a potential victim? For starters, run a credit report on yourself to see ifthere are any unknown credit inquiries or unauthorized accounts. It’s alsoa good idea to limit the number of credit cards you have to reduce exposure, and cancel any inactive accounts. Destroy all unused pre-approved credit card and loan applications, the thief only has to fill them out and redirect the return address to start using your credit. Never giveout any sort of important numbers (Driver’s license, Social security number, credit card number, or bank account number) over the telephone evenif you know the person. Safeguard your credit, debit, and ATM cardreceipts and shred them before disposing of them.
Also shred any bank account and tax documents you have. Don’t give out your PIN or write them on your credit cards or ATM cards. Never leave your purse or wallet unattended, at work, at restaurants, at health fitness clubs, in your shopping cart, at church or at social gatherings. Always respond to written credit card receipt notifications received in the mail. Never leave your purse or wallet in open view in your car, even when locked. Obtain copiesof your credit report periodically to see if there are any unknown credit lines in your name, most credit reports cost less than $10.
If you do become a victim, here’s a couple quick steps to get your self back on the right track. Report the incident to the police immediately. If you know where your identification was stolen, report it to those local authorities. Insist on being given a police report number a geta copy to encloses in correspondence with credit agencies. Immediately notify any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert onyour file.
Once an alert is placed, creditors must contact you before opening any new accounts or changing existing ones. As soon as one of the major credit bureaus receives your request for an alert, the other two companies automatically do the same. After the alert has been placed, you can request a free credit report from any of the major bureaus. Report all stolen cards to the .