What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone uses your personal or financial information to make purchases, get benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud. Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance.
Clues That Someone Has Stolen Your Information
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return were filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
If you suspect or find evidence of identity theft on any of your accounts, follow these steps:
Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
Call the fraud department. Explain that someone stole your identity. Ask them to close or freeze the accounts. Then, no one can add new charges
unless you agree. Change any logins, usernames, passwords, and PINs for your accounts.
Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports.
To place a free fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
• Experian.com/help 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
• TransUnion.com/credit-help 888-909-8872
• Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services 1-800-685-1111
Get updates at IdentityTheft.gov/creditbureaucontacts. You can and should access your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at least once per year. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Take the time to review your reports. Make note of any account or transaction you don’t recognize. This will help you report the theft to the FTC and the police.
Step 3: Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.)
Visit the Official IdentityTheft.gov Website
This government website provides detailed advice to help you fix problems caused by identity theft, along with the ability to:
• Get a personal recovery plan that walks you through each step.
• Update your plan and track your progress.
• Print pre-filled letters and forms to send to credit bureaus, businesses, and debt collectors. Go to IdentityTheft.gov and click “Get Started.”
You will find detailed advice for tax, medical, and child identity theft – plus over thirty other types of identity theft. Your next step might be closing accounts open in your name, or reporting fraudulent charges to your financial institution or credit card company. You can contact Main street Bank if your account is compromised and schedule an appointment here at your local branch.