How to protect yourself before and after it happens.
5 ways to prevent identity theft
1. Limit what you carry.
-When you go out, only take your id and a credit or debit card that you need. Leave your Social Security card at home.
2. Ask why they need your information.
-Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child's school, or a doctor's office, ask why they need it, how they will keep it safe, and the consequences of not sharing.
3. Make sure you have a locked mailbox when sending checks.
-When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.
4. Don’t Overshare on Social Networking Sites.
-If you post too much information about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.
5. Keep your passwords to yourself.
-Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. Ex: “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could be 1W2CtPo.
Signs of identity theft
What to do when your identity is stolen
The first thing you want to do is stop them from making anymore progress than what they've already done. It is best to follow these three steps as soon as you realize you are under identity theft.
1. Place an initial fraud alert.
-An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name.
2. Order your credit reports.
-The credit reporting company that you call will explain your rights and how you can get a free copy of your credit report.
3. Create an identity theft report.
-An Identity Theft Report will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and businesses that gave the identity thief credit or opened new accounts in your name.
If you are interested in any further information, check out http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
What to do after the first 3 steps
Place an extended fraud alert.
Contact each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companites.
Mark your calendars.
Extended alerts stay in effect for only 7 days.
Update your files.
Keep copies of letters or your files.