And one important step to prevent it.
Identity Theft is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Over 15 million consumers lost $16 billion to identity fraud in 2016. That’s according to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research.
Everyday, these types of crimes continue to become more and more commonplace. While we hear about identity theft all the time, when you consider that when 1 in 16 adults were victimized just last year, it’s clear that no one is immune. So when you get the call that there’s been suspicious activity on your credit card, or you notice unauthorized purchases on your bank account, or other similar breaches occur, take a moment and check into it. Here are some important steps you need to take immediately:
- Contact one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) and put a fraud alert on your credit report. This will immediately flag your credit and let creditors and lenders know that extra steps are required to ensure your identity before issuing credit in your name. This alert is a free service and will remain active on your account for 90 days. In some cases you can request an extension at no additional fee.
- Get a free copy of your credit report and scan it closely for any accounts that may have been opened fraudulently. Each of the three credit agencies are required to provide you with a free credit report once you’ve placed a fraud alert. If you spot anything that wasn’t authorized, begin the dispute process immediately—there is an option to do this online on any of the three reporting agencies’ websites.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission and create an identity theft report.You can do this online, by calling them toll-free at 877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338), (866) 653-4261, or by mail to 600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20580. Once you file a report, the FTC will give you additional steps to take depending on the type of fraud that’s been committed.
- File a police report. After you contact the FTC, you’ll need to contact your local police and create a report with them. These two reports go together and are needed when you are disputing activity on your bank account, or working with creditors to remedy unauthorized charges.
- Call your creditors and bank. If your wallet was stolen, or a thief has swiped your credit or debit card number, you’ll need to contact the credit card company and your bank right away to close out any and all accounts.
- Contact social security and the IRS. If your case involves someone getting your social security number, it’s critical that you contact the Social Security Administration and the IRS. Remember, even if there hasn’t been any unusual activity yet, thieves often use social security numbers to steal tax refunds years later, or to get healthcare, or apply for a job.
A Solution For Preventing Identity Theft
Of course, the best solution to identity theft is not to become a victim in the first place. While no one is immune, safeguarding important documents and discarding those with personal information responsibly can go a long way towards protecting your identity.
Polar Shredding offers an easy and convenient way to protect yourself and your family. One of our state-of-the-art shredding trucks will come to your location and shred your documents onsite, which means any sensitive information never leaves your sight. As a locally owned and operated organization, it’s our goal to offer peace of mind to our customers all across the tri-state area. For more information, call us at (800) 866-9212 or fill out on our online quote request form.