Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud under your name. Someone who steals your information may apply for credit cards, apply for loans, and make large purchases. This can majorly hurt your credit score and be very difficult to recover from. Continue reading to learn more about identity theft and how to prevent it from happening to you.
You may not notice the signs of identity theft immediately. Some of the signs include charges on your credit cards you did not pay for, debt collection calls on accounts you did not open, and denial letters for credit cards, bank accounts, and loans that you did not apply for.
While everyone is at risk for identity theft, children and the elderly are at the highest risk. Child identity theft can be left unknown for many years since children’s personal information is not used often. Many people who experience identity theft as a child do not notice until they are an adult and begin to apply for credit cards and loans. Seniors are at risk of being taken advantage of at medical offices and by caregivers. People who commit identity theft believe seniors are unlikely to notice.
Keeping your personal information safe is the easiest way to prevent identity theft. This includes not carrying around your Social Security card and only giving it out when necessary. You do need to be careful giving out your personal information if someone asks for it. Be sure they are a credible and reliable person who needs your personal information for a good reason. Also pay attention to billing cycles and transactions on your credit cards and bank accounts to make sure all your transactions are valid. These small steps can be the difference of falling victim to identity theft.
If you are concerned that your identity has been stolen, you can report your claim to the Federal Trade Commission online at identitytheft.gov. The FTC will assist you in a recovery plan to improve your credit report and get rid of accounts made by the thief. The only times you would report identity theft to the police is when you know the thief by name, the thief used your name in a conversation with police, or a company requires a police report to cancel accounts made by the thief.
If you are a victim of identity theft, it is a long and difficult process to recover your credit. The best way to ensure you do not become a victim of identity theft is being alert about changes to your credit report and keeping your personal information safe.