What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft accounted for 22.60% of all consumer complaints in 2017 based on a FTC.gov report.

Identity Theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission. Your personal information is then used to open a fraudulent credit card, apply for credit, file a fictitious tax return, or even rent an apartment. You will not even know there is a problem until you are notified of one of the past due “accounts” or pull a credit report.

Your personal information could have been stolen a long time before you realize that you are a victim. Understanding how Identity Theft can occur will equip you with the knowledge to access tools that will aid in your prevention and/or recovery should you need it.

How is it stolen?

  • Data breaches
  • Malware activity
  • Web and internet activity
  • Mail theft and dumpster diving
  • WIFI hijacking, ATM readers, mobile phone theft

How can your personal information be used?

  • Identity thieves can steal your PIN, access your computer and use your social security number.
  • Fraudulent credit card accounts can be opened in your name and goods purchased, with no tracing.
  • Use your credit to make purchases and borrow money.
  • Your Social security number and personal information, such as birthdate and credit information can be sold internationally to commit credit and medical fraud and much more.
  • Banking account information can be stolen and used to file fraudulent tax reports, thus stealing your money from the accounts.

How Identity Theft Affects You?

  • Financial loss, damage to your credit and emotional distress.
  • Increased credit usage which lowers your credit scores and disrupts your privacy and life, requiring time and energy.
  • Possibility of going unnoticed, resulting in late payments and impacting your credit score and damage, possibly IRS penalties depending on the crime.
  • Loss of account access, credit fraud, account takeover and loss of data privacy.

How can it be prevented or stopped if already a victim?

Access your free annual credit report from the three credit agencies:

Free Credit Reports

Protecting Your Identity

Identity Theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. An American falls victim to identity fraud every 2 seconds.

American Bankers Association recommends the following tips to keep your information safe:

  • Don’t share your secrets
  • Shred sensitive papers
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail
  • Use online banking to protect yourself
  • Monitor your credit report
  • Protect your computer
  • Protect your mobile device
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
Reporting Identity Theft

If you have become a victim of Identity Theft, you can not only report the theft but start your credit recovery by following a plan at IdentityTheft.gov through the Federal Trade Commission.

As you work with your credit card companies to have problems removed, they will ask for a police report or an Affidavit of Theft. Reporting your theft in this manner will provide you the documentation of how to obtain the Affidavit of Theft and the actual Affidavit to use.

Learn more from the following resources which will provide information concerning how Identity Theft happens, how it can be avoided and steps to restore your credit should you be a victim.

Annual Credit Report

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Federal Trade Commission

Free Annual Credit Reports

You have the right to access and review your free annual credit report to look for inconsistencies. You can choose from each of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, Transunion.

Other Rights to Free Reports
Also, under federal law, you’re entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft. Otherwise, a credit reporting company may charge you a reasonable amount for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.

To buy a copy of your report, contact:

You can also find answers to some of your questions about free credit reports, disputing errors on Credit Reports and general information about ID Theft and protection from the Federal Trade Commission.
Another resource for information about your credit score and other financial information, is by accessing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U. S. governmental agency formed to protect the consumer.