Identity theft is a serious problem to which many Americans are falling victim. In fact you may know someone who has been a victim of identity theft in some form. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013” (www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/02/ftc-announces-top-national-consumer-complaints-2013).
Who is committing all of this fraud? Unfortunately it can be someone as close as a family member stealing your social security number along with your date of birth, and then using this information to get credit in your name, or a predator hacking into your personal computer through malware. A trend that seems to be occurring as of late is major retailer’s software being hacked into in order to obtain mass quantities of account information. This information may contain your date of birth, social security number, address, checking account information, etc.
Here are the steps from the Federal Trade Commission you should take right away if you have had your identity stolen including:
1. Place an initial Fraud Alert by calling the credit bureau reporting agencies.
2. Order Your Credit Reports
3. Create an Identity Theft Report
Visit the FTC Consumer Information Site here for details on how to work through each of these three steps and to learn how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
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