What is identity theft?
Identity theft is any crime that involves someone wrongfully obtaining and using another person’s personal data in a fraudulent manner, usually to steal money. The identities of roughly nine million Americans are stolen each year.
Most victims won’t know their identity has been stolen until well after it happens because they don’t know the warning signs. The sooner you become aware of the theft, the less damage a thief can do.
10 Steps for Identity Theft Victims
Unfamiliar purchases or missing money
Always check billing statements for purchases or transactions you didn’t make. Unexpected purchases or transactions indicate that someone has stolen your account number.
Surprises on your credit report
There are three major credit reporting companies, each of which is required to provide you with one free copy of your credit report every year upon request. Contact them directly to order your reports:
- Equifax: 800-525-6285 or equifax.com
- Experian: 888-397-3742 or experian.com
- TransUnion: 800-680-7289 or transunion.com