Identity theft is defined as the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain. Identity thieves may attempt to use your credit cards, open new accounts in your name, or attempt to access your accounts. There are steps to take in order to protect yourself and your personal information as well as procedures if you suspect your identity has been stolen.
- Check all your financial accounts for errors or suspicious activity.
- Enroll in a credit monitoring service.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Consider freezing your credit.
- Alert the authorities.
- Always use strong passwords and be aware of the information you give out.
The easiest and most proactive action you can take to combat identity theft in the early stages to to frequently monitor your financial accounts. Many banks, credit card services, etc. have mobile apps that you can download to your phone and easily check your account activity. You can also enroll in paper statements but they are not as up-to-date as the mobile apps which can easily be refreshed and updated.
You may request a free copy of your credit reports through the government authorized AnnualCreditReport.com to see if you notice any suspicious activity.
If you are concerned about identity theft you may want to consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service that monitor all of your accounts and catch suspicious activity early. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends placing a “fraud alert” on your credit and/or debit cards.
Limit the amount of information you share on the internet. It may not be wise to include your phone number, birth date or family member’s on your Facebook page. Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you were the one to initiate the call. Do not click on email links that you do not recognize or that look suspicious because it could infect your computer with malware.
Stolen mail is one of the easiest ways someone can steal an identity. Shed or rip up papers with sensitive information on it before throwing it away. Consider a U.S. Postal Service-approved lockable mailbox.
Be careful with your debit and credit cards. When shopping keep your wallet in a secure place at all times. Do not tell anyone your PIN. Consider purchasing a RFID wallet. These wallets are designed to help insulate your cards from a particular type of electronic pick pocketing, called RFID skimming.
Be aware of the risks so that you can protect yourself from identity thieves.
If you think you are a victim file a report here: https://revenue.ky.gov/Individual/Pages/Identity-Theft-Victims.aspx
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