Defeating Identity Theft: Protection And Recovery
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Defeating Identity Theft: Protection And Recovery

Identity thieves make unauthorized use of another individual’s personal information such as credit card and social security numbers in order to commit financial crimes or identity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that approximately nine million Americans are victims of some form of identity theft each year. Here is how you can defeat these criminals on your own.

Motives

The Department of Justice has identified two primary motives for identity crimes: financial gain such as making unauthorized financial transactions and concealment by assuming another’s identity.

Prevention

You can prevent identity theft by securing personal information and monitoring credit transactions:

  • Monitoring your monthly bank, credit card, and other financial accounts for accuracy and any unusual or unauthorized activity. Utilize the free alerts that most financial institutions use to notify customers of unusual transactions.
  • Check your free credit report with any of the credit reporting agencies for unusual activity.
  • Use a credit card which has fraud protection versus less secure debit cards or checks to make purchases.
  • Secure personal information on and off line from unknown sources. Maintain up to date computer security, and use a variety of strong pass words, change passwords periodically, and check the accuracy of personal information on account profiles.
  • Maintain a fraud alert or credit freeze to prevent unauthorized use of your credit cards.

Fraud Alert/Credit Freeze

A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report after they verify your identity directly from you. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions. If you're concerned about identity theft, a fraud alert will protect your credit from unverified access for at least 90 days. You may want to place a fraud alert on your file if you are worried about identity theft.

A credit freeze locks your credit until you unlock or “thaw” your account. A credit freeze seals your credit reports by use of a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily "thaw" your credit so that legitimate applications for credit and services can be processed. This added layer of security means that thieves can't establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your ID.

Fraud alerts and credit freezes have no impact on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

You can place a free fraud alert or a credit freeze at minimal cost online or by calling or writing any of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax:1- 800- 525- 6285, Experian:1- 888- 397- 3742 or TranUnion: 1- 800- 680- 7289.

Recovery

If you discover that you have been a victim of identity theft:

  • Call the fraud units of the three major credit bureaus and request a "fraud alert" be placed on your credit file.
  • File a report with your local law enforcement agency.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Notify all creditors with whom your name or identifying data may have been fraudulently used.
  • Contact all financial institutions where you have accounts that an identity thief has taken over or where an account has been created in your name without your knowledge. You may have to cancel these accounts, stop payment orders on any outstanding checks that have not cleared, as well as change your account and ATM card PIN.
  • Record the names and phone numbers of people you contact regarding your case and retain all original reports and supporting documents.

Summary

Identity thieves victimize approximately nine million Americans each year by the unauthorized use of personal information such as credit card and social security numbers, in order to commit financial crimes or identity fraud. Methods designed to defeat identity thieves were discussed and outlined.

Read more about psychology, crime, and personal security at James W. Siddall on Facebook.


Street Talk

Thanks for the tips. Very good eye opener.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thank you Andrew, Identity theft is a growing problem but so are the solutions i.e. the new credit cards with embedded ID chips.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Great article James... It's frightening to read about how common identity theft has become, and how devastating it can be for someone to claim and misuse your personal information. Thanks for the valuable advice!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thanks for your interest and comments Juan.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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