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. According to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study by Javlin Strategy & Research, the identities of an estimated 16.7 million Americans were stolen in 2017.
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.
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 – Equifax, Experian & TransUnion. Each company is required to provide you with one free copy of your credit report every 12 months upon request. You may request your free annual credit file:
- Online: AnnualCreditReport.com
- By Calling: 1-877-322-8228
- By Mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281