June 16, 2024
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In this video I’ll discuss every aspect of identity theft recognition, prevention, and what to do. Here are the highlights…

Identity theft is the crime of stealing and impersonating another individual’s identity for financial gain. How much of a problem is it?

-14.4 million ID theft victims
-$1.7 billion in out-of-pocket costs
-1 in 15 people were affected
-Average cleanup from an ID theft was six months and 200 hours
-Average cost was $600 per incident.

How do you know when your personal info was compromised?

1. Your bank statement doesn’t look right or your checks bounce.
2. You see unfamiliar and unauthorized activity on your credit card or credit report.
3. Your bills and mail are missing or you receive unfamiliar bills.
4. You get denials for loan applications
5. You notice an unexpected drop in your credit score.
6. Your cell phone or another utility loses service.
7. You receive calls from debt collectors for accounts you didn’t open.
8. Your medical bill doesn’t add up, or your medical claim is denied.
9. You’re unable to file taxes because someone has already filed a tax return in your name.
10. You’re notified that your information was exposed in a data breach.

If you have confirmed that you are a victim of identity theft…

1. Place a fraud alert with all three major CRAs and get your credit reports:

TransUnion.com/fraud
1-800-680-7289
Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance
1-888-766-0008
Experian.com/fraudalert
1-888-397-3742

2. Call any company where you know fraud occurred and close or freeze all accounts. If you don’t close them, at least change all PINs and logins.
3. Report identity theft to the FTC. Go to IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338. Include as many details as possible. Based on the information you enter, IdentityTheft.gov will create your Identity Theft Report and recovery plan.
4. Close new accounts opened in your name.
5. Remove bogus charges from your accounts.
6. Correct your credit report with the big three CRAs by contacting their fraud departments.

TransUnion
Fraud Victim Assist. Dept.
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

Equifax
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348-5069

Experian
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

7. Consider adding an extended fraud alert or credit freeze to your reports.
8. If you suspect a misused Social Security number, review your Social Security work history. You do this by creating an account at this address ssa.gov/myaccount. If you find errors, contact your local Social Security Administration office.
9. If you suspect your taxes have been filed by someone else, contact the IRS to let them know.
10. If you suspect medical services were provided to someone else under your name, contact your health insurance provider.
11. Stop debt collectors from trying to collect debts you don’t owe. FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov can help you with the proper letters to write.
12. Replace government-issued IDs at your first opportunity.
13. Finally, clear your name of potential criminal charges by letting your local police department know of the ID theft right away. That way if someone uses your name in a crime, you won’t be confused w that person. This sounds unlikely, but it has happened in the past.

Here are some steps you can take to minimize the chances you will fall victim to ID theft, or not allow the thieves to do too much damage if it happens.

1. Freeze your credit. A freeze will stop all activity on your credit file, and since a credit check is always required, this will stop anyone trying to open a new account. To freeze or unfreeze your credit call or go online with all three CRAs.

-TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or:
transunion.com/credit-freeze
-Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or:
equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
-Experian: Call 888 397 3742 or:
experian.com/freeze/center.html

2. Safeguard your Social Security Number. Don’t carry your card with you, and be sure to securely store or shred paperwork containing it.
3. Scrub your social media and do not give away any personal data. Do not reveal your mother’s maiden name or your exact birth day.
4. Monitor your medical and financial records.
5. Shred everything. Shred all unsolicited credit card offers or opt out for five years by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit OptOutPrescreen.com.
6. Keep an eye on your mail. Use a secure mailbox, and retrieve your mail immediately.
7. Keep an eye on your wallet or purse in public.
8. Secure your online data and use strong passwords.

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