the 2007 Identity Fraud Report, approximately 8.4 million people were victims
of identity theft in 2007 and most of these victims accumulated fraudulent
charges against them – to the tune of around $6,000.00. Identity theft is a growing concern and in
this case, knowledge is power. Learning
how to fight identity theft can keep you from being a victim.
Top 5 Warning Signs
If you see
one or more of the following signs, you may be a victim of identity theft.
notice that you haven’t received one or more of your regular monthly
bills. This can mean that the thief
has put in a change of address for your name – probably so he or she can
receive stolen goods.
receive telephone calls from bill collectors, debt collection agencies or
merchants who claim that you owe them money for unfamiliar items or
are denied credit when you try to receive financing, apply for credit
cards or apply for a loan when you know your credit score should be good
or above average.
notice unfamiliar charges on your credit card statements or bank
looking at a copy of your credit report, you see debts or payments in
default that do not belong to you.
If you see
one or more of these warning signs, you need to act immediately. While creditors and credit bureaus often make
mistakes, you shouldn’t take the chance.
Here are the most effective ways of stopping identity theft once it has
Stopping Identity Theft:
If you notice
strange charges to your bank account, make a visit to the bank
immediately. Many banks have identity
theft protection plans, so it’s possible that you can receive your money back
if you act quickly.
your bank the charges that don’t belong to you.
payment on any active checks. and
any debit or check cards.
- It may
also be necessary to cancel your current bank account and set up a new one.
If you notice
activity on your credit report that is unfamiliar, you also need to act
all three credit bureaus to dispute unfamiliar charges.
- Call the
merchant companies listed on your credit report and inform them of the
- Call the
authorities and explain the situation.
Important Contact Information:
report identity theft to the following organizations.
Federal Trade Commission – 1-877-IDTHEFT
Federal Bureau of Investigation – www.fbi.gov
Local Law Enforcement
– P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374 – 1-800-685-1111
– P.O. Box 2002 Allen, TX 75013 – 1-888-397-3742
– P.O. Box 1000 Chester, PA 19022 – 1-800-888-4213
the identity theft, you can help stop the accumulated fraudulent charges and
protect your identity.
Preventing Identity Theft from
Happening to You:
several steps you can take to prevent identity theft from becoming a problem
for you. If you are very careful with
your personal information, you can prevent identity theft – which is much
easier than trying to stop it.
- Get a Paper Shredder – Make sure you shred all of your
bills, credit card statements, bank statements and any other document that
contains personal information before throwing it away. Identity thieves have been known to obtain
personal information from victims’ trash.
- Be Cautious Online – While most online shopping sites
have protection processes in place, you can never be too careful. Make sure a site uses encryption and that
your information will be safe before shopping online. If you’re still nervous, use an online
payment service like PayPal so your information cannot be obtained.
- Don’t Trust the Phone – Never give your information out
over the telephone. Even if the person
on the other line says they are a representative of your bank, your financing
company or something similar – tell them you will have to call them back or see
them in person. Thieves are very
convincing on the telephone and you should never give your information out over
the telephone to anyone.
By preventing identity theft, you will not have to use
resources, time and energy to track down people who have your information and
try to get your money back. Identity
theft is growing as individuals develop more ways to get personal information from
people. The information above shows you
how to fight it.