Important Information on Identity Theft
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. If you suspect that someone is misusing your personal information, acting quickly is the best way to limit the damage. Setting things straight involves some work.
Clues That Someone Has Stolen Your Information
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
If you take action quickly, you can stop an identity thief from doing more damage. Follow these three steps as soon as possible:
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert
- Order Your Credit Reports
- Create an Identity Theft Report
Place an Initial Fraud Alert
Ask 1 of the 3 credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit report. They must tell the other 2 companies. An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. The alert lasts 90 days but you can renew it.
Equifax - 1-800-525-6285
Experian - 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289
Order Your Credit Reports
Now that you’ve placed an initial fraud alert, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies.The credit reporting company that you call will explain your rights and how you can get a free copy of your credit report. Order the report and ask the company to show only the last four digits of your Social Security number on your report. If you know which of your accounts have been tampered with, contact the related businesses. Talk to someone in the fraud department, and follow up in writing. Send your letters by certified mail; ask for a return receipt. That creates a record of your communications.
Create an Identity Theft Report
An Identity Theft Report will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and businesses that gave the identity thief credit or opened new accounts in your name.
produced by: FTC.gov, for more information, please visit: ftc.gov/idtheft
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