Q: I hear so much about identity theft, what does that really mean?
A: Identity theft is when your personal information (social security number, date of birth, bank account information, credit card information, etc) is taken and is falsely used for others’ personal gains.
Q: How will I know if I am a victim? What should I do if this happens?
A: Typically, you will know. You may get unsolicited contact from a credit card company or receive mail that you do not recognize. Here are some steps and actions to take:
1) Contact the three credit reporting bureaus and place a Fraud Alert on your credit report. This can be done by a simple phone call, but that alert is only a 90-day notification. In order to extend that length of time, a request will need to be made in writing and can be placed for seven years.
2) Order your credit report. It’s free and should be reviewed to ensure there are no other breaches on your file.
3) Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and complete the FTC affidavit. This affidavit can then be taken to the local police department or the law enforcement division where the identity theft occurred.
These three steps are more fully outlined on the Federal Trade Commission’s website: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
Q: Are there other areas I should be concerned with?
A: Yes! There have been many instances of submissions of false tax returns for the purpose of obtaining refunds. The Internal Revenue Service continues to elevate their systems to secure taxpayer data. The IRS’s website has information and links to helpful articles: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection. I95