Consequences Of Identity Theft
Buying the girl next to you drinks may impress her, that is until your credit card is declined, giving you a quick lesson in the consequences of identity theft. Once thieves have your information, they can reroute your mail to a different address to have access to your credit. Opening a new line a credit, thieves will charge to the account and then allow the balance to go delinquent. Using your good credit, they can open a bank account and write checks that will later bounce. So how did thieves get your information? Stealing wallets or mail, going through your trash, finding your information online, diverting your mail with a change of address form or even buying your information from other sources will allow thieves to steal your credit and and commit identity theft .
Protecting your information from identity theft is easier than reclaiming your identity. The average victim spends 30 hours restoring their identity according to George Washington State University. To protect yourself, get a copy of your free annual credit report. Look for mistakes or discrepancies and report any inaccuracies. Know when your bills should arrive in the mail and contact creditors if they are delayed. Be careful of who you give your personal information to and never discuss it over the phone, by e-mail or through the mail, unless you know who you’re dealing with. When ordering checks use your first initial and last name; this makes it difficult for the thief to sign your name. When you are banking or doing other transactions online, use secure strong passwords that would be unknown to others. Do not use common information such as your place of birth, your mother’s maiden name or your phone number.
If you have been the victim of identity theft, there are a few things you can do. Quickly contact the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Contact the Social Security Administration’s fraud line to place a fraud alert on your credit. Contact the fraud or security department for each creditor for accounts that have not been opened by you and report them. Submit the FTC’s identity theft affidavit or complaint form to your local police department or any credit or financial institution that requires it. Keep accurate records of all of your transactions and follow-up to make sure your information has been cleared.
The girl at the bar may have lost interest in you, but identity thieves have not. The consequences of identity theft are dire, but if you take the correct actions you can protect yourself and clear your good name.