How My Identity Was Stolen
Every year 13 million Americans are victims of identity theft. In the summer of 2017, the credit-reporting agency Equifax had a major data breach. The breach was not discovered until late July. During this time, hackers had access to social security numbers, addresses, birthdays and even driver’s license numbers. The hackers also had access to over 200,000 personal credit card numbers and 182,00 dispute papers that included personal information. Unfortunately, there are many other ways in which your identity can be stolen.
How can a thief steal my identity?
A professional identity thief can steal your personal information online or in person. A thief might:
- Gather your information along with thousands of others through a massive breach such as the one that occurred earlier this year with Equifax
- Get your information from garbage or mail that has personal information such as your social security number
- Scam through the process of ‘phishing’ to trick you into releasing personal information by email or over the phone
- Steal your wallet or purse to get your personal information
- Steal the personal information from you and others from a business.
How can you check if your identity was stolen?
- Read your bills. Make sure they do not contain personal information. Double check all the charges are from you
- Monitor transactions in your bank account
- Get your credit report. Check to see if there is information or charges that are odd
- Watch for notifications from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that someone used your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job
- Beware of debt collectors that may call you regarding debts that are not yours
What should I do if my identity was stolen?
It can be truly frightening to find out that your identity was stolen. It is best to act quickly to reduce the amount of damage that can be done. Be sure to contact the companies where the fraud occurred. Also, immediately change your passwords or personal identification information such as your PIN number. Visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website to get a personal recovery plan.
Finally, take advantage of services such as Online Privacy Solutions to remove personal information from online databases. These affordable services are a great precaution to prevent thieves from gathering your information online.