What to Know About Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious problem that can happen to anyone. Chances are that you know someone who has been a victim of identity theft.
Here are some important things to know about identity theft.
Identity theft is a serious crime where someone uses your identity (name and address, credit cards, bank accounts, social security number, etc.). Thieves access your information a number of ways, including:
- Going through your garbage
- Phishing scams sent to your email that can search your computer for personal information
- Data breaches at companies that you frequent (stores, medical facilities, credit card companies, etc.)
- Phone scams where thieves are able to get people to give up personal information by posing as reputable companies, like a bank or even the IRS.
- Robbery where thieves steal your personal information from a break-in at your home or a mugging. They then sell your personal information.
Be careful with what you share online. The information you post on your social media accounts may give hackers enough data to determine your full name, address, birth date, and phone number.
Using public WiFi may allow hackers to access your device and obtain your personal information. Norton suggests being wary of sending any personal information while on a public WiFi and using a VPN to connect when in public can help lessen the risk.
But how does one know if they are a victim of identity theft? The Federal Trade Commission points out these clues:
- Debt collectors call about accounts you are unaware of
- There are withdrawals from your bank account that you didn’t authorize
- There are transactions on your credit card statements that are unfamiliar
- There are accounts on your credit report that you didn’t open
- You have bills from medical providers or other services that you didn’t use
- You are unable to get medical coverage because of conditions that you don’t have
- You receive letters from the IRS indicating that multiple returns were filed in your name
- There was a data breach at a company you have shopped with or have an account
Educating yourself on identity theft can help reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Keeping tabs on your credit report is a necessary step in maintaining good credit health.