Did you know that identity theft often occurs when you are obtaining your Government Free Annual Credit Report? Therefore, you must protect yourself before you become another victim of America’s fastest rising crime.
So How Is Identity Stolen With The “Free Credit Report” Scam?
1. “Phishing” is the name of one of the primary scams. It has become increasingly popular. It happens when you receive emails requesting your contact and social security number from individuals pretending they are a legitimate company. For instance, your bank will never request your social security number or private information so that they can verify your account or check your credit.
2. Another popular way is to go to a website advertising a “Free Credit Report.” It asks you for your name and social security number which you happily provide. Well guess what….. If it is a fake website, you have just had your identity stolen.
In either case, you may actually even receive a copy of your credit report, because they forward your information to a real website which in turn sends you a free copy of your report. In reality, the identity thieves have started your nightmare and you don’t even know it. This is a very good reason of why you should NEVER put your personal information into a form from an email. If it is a link from an email, don’t share your info either.
Here are some obvious signs of Internet Identity Theft
• Statements and bills are coming late or not at all to your home
• Collection agencies or creditors will contact you about accounts you do not have or charges you have not made.
• There are transfers or withdrawals that have not been made by you on your financial account statements
• You have been denied credit or are being offered unfavorable credit terms (i.e. a high interest rate with no underlying explanation)
• You are getting letters or calls from businesses or debt collectors about products or services that you did not purchase.
Identity Theft: How bad is it?
In the past year, 7 million people became identity theft victims. The average loss to an American is thirty hours of their time and over $500 in financial losses.
In the last year, total personal losses have been over five billion (with a “b”) dollars.
On average, one out of every seventy-nine shopping sprees is one involving stolen identity.
What you should do if you become the victim of Identity Theft:
1. First, alert the fraud department of the three agencies which monitor credit. Tell them you are a victim of identity theft and ask them to put an alert on your credit information. (Unfortunately, you may be required to pay for this service.)
2. In addition, get your credit report from these three large credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and TransUnion and closely scrutinize your credit reports looking for credit cards you did not order, inquiries you did not make and other suspicious activities.
3. Next report your case, including all the details to your local police department.
4. To report identity theft to the central department of the American government for fraud protection, call the toll-free hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT.
5. Close all accounts on the credit reports that you believe were opened fraudulently utilizing your name.
6. If your bank or checking accounts, or even your ATM card, have been compromised then shut those accounts down as soon as possible.
7. Your local postal inspector should be alerted, as they undoubtedly have used your personal address info, this address needs to be immediately terminated and you should create a new postal box.
8. Contact the Social Security Administration to make sure that your name and earnings are all correct.