Identity theft can have an impact on all aspects of your life – from your job, to your credit, to personal relationships, which have been shown to suffer under the stress caused by identity theft.
Having your personal information stolen is a violation, an intrusion into your life by someone you don’t know. Tracking your identity online may be time consuming, but a credit report from the major reporting agencies can help you find mistakes and incidents of identity theft and other credit frauds.
Think it can’t happen to you? Got lots of security software on your home system? The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics has some eye-opening numbers that might change the way you view identity theft.*
- The most recent study found 7% of us will have our identities compromised online or in the real world. Remember, ID theft can happen anywhere, any time.
- 85% of identity theft involves existing accounts, i.e., new accounts aren’t always created if existing accounts can be looted.
- When new accounts were opened using compromised identity information, victims were more likely to encounter financial and credit problems in resolving the ID theft.
- Identification theft may cause severe emotional distress and relationship problems that can continue long term.
- 14% of identity theft victims experienced out-of-pocket expenses of more than $1.00, but only 7% experienced an out-of-pocket loss in excess of $100 (so if you’re looking for the silver lining in this cloud, maybe low financial losses is it).
- 29% of identity theft victims spend more than a month trying to resolve issues associated with the identity theft.
When Should You Check Your Credit Reports?
You’re legally entitled to a free credit report each year from the three major credit reporting agencies:
1-888-397-3742 (toll free 24/7 fraud reporting)
1-800-525-6285 (toll free 24/7 fraud reporting)
1-800-680-7289 (toll free 24/7 fraud reporting)
If you have minor children, it’s a good idea to also request a credit report using their name and Social Security number. Scam artists have been known to create false credit histories using children’s information, and the family may not find out until the child is old enough to request a credit card or file income taxes.
However, requesting a free report each year is the bare minimum you should do to help protect yourself. If you suspect any kind of unusual or suspicious behavior around your accounts – either online or offline – it’s time to check your credit report. If your suspicions are confirmed, notify any of the three reporting agencies and issue a free initial fraud alert on any and all accounts. The agency where you filed the alert must notify other reporting agencies, saving you time and helping protect your credit ASAP.
Placing a fraud alert on your account makes it a lot harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. A business must verify who you are before issuing credit when an initial fraud alert is on file. That alert will stay in place for 90 days, but you can request that a new fraud alert be assigned if you’re still suspicious about account hacks.
How to Place an Initial Fraud Alert on your Accounts
If you believe your personal information has been compromised, act quickly. As a potential or actual victim of identity fraud, you have certain rights that the three reporting agencies must respect.
If you even think you might be the victim of identification theft, take action as quickly as possible and alert all three credit agencies with a single telephone call, or filing an online initial fraud alert.
Don’t wait until it happens to you. Take a pro-active stance and monitor your credit. Read your monthly bank and credit card statements, and if something doesn’t look right (or feel right), contact a credit agency to help protect yourself against identity fraud.
Click here for more information from Nevada State Bank about identity theft and internet fraud. Click here to see how Purchase Alerts and Fraud Alerts can help increase security for your debit and credit cards.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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