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A key aspect of awareness of identity theft is to protect yourself from it. That means having the ability to recognize it. Identity theft is defined as any crime committed against people where personal and financial data is obtained in deceptive or fraudulent ways, most commonly for financial gain. Here are the signs of identity theft and what you can do if you believe your identity has been stolen.
Among the most common warning signs are mysterious charges on your credit card statement and getting strange bills in your name. Another is when bills stop coming to your mailbox. You might have fallen victim to a scammer.
Scrutinize your bank statements when they arrive. Monitor for unexpected withdrawals or charges and check your credit report for unfamiliar items.
Get the authorities involved
You must report any possible case of identity theft to the FTC. You can do this by calling them or online. The watchdog will issue you an identity fraud report and propose a recovery plan if you report the theft online.
You can create an account on the FTC website if you want to track progress, have your plan updated if needed, and send creditors prefilled forms. If you don’t create an account, you won’t be able to access the required forms or the report in the future.
If you report the crime by phone, the FTC will also take a statement, but you won’t get a report or a plan for recovery.
Reporting the theft to the police
If the thief used your data in an interaction with the police, you would have to provide an in-depth report with all the details. This will also be the case if a creditor or a company requests a police report or you know the perpetrator personally.
How to get more details
It’s easy – all it can take is a free people finder. This website will reveal the details surrounding your digital footprint. You can trace it to see where and how your data has been used. To deter thieves, you can have your information removed from that and other people finders.
Types of identity theft
Different types of identity theft are reported to different agencies. Tax identity theft cases are reported to the IRS. You would report an incident of theft due to a stay in a nursing home or similar facility to the ombudsman’s Long-Term Care Resource Center.
Freezing your credit account
Contact one of the three credit reporting services in the country if you want to place an alert or freeze on your credit accounts. Ask for copies of the credit report to ensure the perpetrator hasn’t already used your information to create illicit credit accounts. The service you’ve turned to will contact the other two.
Call your bank or issuer if a bank or credit card account has been compromised due to identity theft. In every event, contact the FTC first.
If the perpetrator created an account in your name with a retailer, you must report the crime to that retailer. An identity thief can even apply for a job at a company using your information. You will probably need new records and a new ID document if you’ve suffered identity theft.
How to react to medical ID theft
Medical identity theft is when a criminal uses your name, Social Security number, insurance plan number, or other personal details to get medication, medical help, coverage, or access to your medical records.
Monitor your benefits explanation or Medicare Summary. If you see any unfamiliar charges, report them to Medicare or your benefits provider. Don’t share your SSN, Medicare number, or health insurance ID numbers with anyone except your insurance providers. Read your medical records and watch for false information.
Never click on links in random emails, and don’t open unsecured websites. Identity thieves regularly use emails and fake websites that only look like those of your bank, credit card issuer, or lender. If the login screen seems different, don’t enter your login credentials. Don’t share your date of birth, SSN, or bank account number unless absolutely necessary. Even then, be very careful who you share this data with.