Mental Help Net
  •  
Identity Theft and Recovery
Basic Information

Fingerprint

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Millions of people have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.  The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.  Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be deni...

 

 
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is identity theft and how does it happen?

  • Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
  • The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
  • Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:
    • Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
    • Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
    • Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
    • Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
    • Old-Fashioned Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.
    • Pretexting. They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources. For more information about pretexting, click here.

For more information

How can I protect my identity?

  • While nothing can guarantee that you won't become a victim of identity theft, you can minimize your risk, and minimize the damage if a problem develops, by making it more difficult for identity thieves to access your personal information.
  • Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers.
  • To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, always shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.
  • Deposit your outgoing mail containing personally identifying information in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox.
  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, a series of consecutive numbers, or a single word that would appear in a dictionary.
  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know who you're dealing with.
  • Protect your purse and wallet at all times. Don't carry your Social Security number or card; leave it in a secure place. Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
  • Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your personally identifying information.

For more information 

What are the signs of identity theft?

  • The best way to detect identity theft is to monitor your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis.
  • Stay alert for the signs of identity theft, like:
    • accounts you didn't open and debts on your accounts that you can't explain.
    • fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit reports, including accounts and personal information, like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers.
    • failing to receive bills or other mail. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
    • receiving credit cards that you didn't apply for.
    • being denied credit, or being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason.
    • getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn't buy.

For more information 

What are the steps I should take if I'm a victim of identity theft?

  • If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following four steps as soon as possible, and keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.
  • 1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
  • 2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • 3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • 4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

For more information 


 
Videos
 
Links
 
Resources
Basic InformationVideosLinks
Related Topics
Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook!




This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Powered by CenterSite.Net