Identity theft is a real crime which many people are affected by. There are actions you can take to be aware of when your identity is compromised so that you can take early steps to ensure your personal safety.
How to track and take steps to stop identity theft
Keep track of your credit reports and read all of your financial statements so that you can catch any unusual purchases or activity firsthand.
If you see any charges you don't remember making, or don't have receipts for, it could be a red flag. Be just as wary of large charges as small ones. It is a common strategy of thieves to take small amounts from your bank account as they are generally more transparent.
Also be sure to review your credit reports from time to time. There are three major credit bureaus which you can check, Experian, Equifax and TrasnUnion. There are other signs you can look for if a thief is opening financial accounts in your name, such as incorrect amounts, accounts you aren't responsible for opening, or any contact from unfamiliar companies. Any of these situations is a strong indicator of identity theft. Another sign that someone has opened an account in your name are bills being sent to you from people you don't recognize. If this has happened to you the best thing you can do is to call the editor and inquire about the situation.
What to do in case you’re a victim of identity theft
If you have gone through these steps already and you have concluded that you are a victim of identity theft there are a series of actions you can take to protect yourself from further theft. The first set of options you have are to make an Identity Theft Report, place a credit freeze on your credit file, or place an extended fraud alert. The extended alert lasts for 7 years and allows you to do variety of things to protect yourself from the identity thief. Credit reporting companies will have to prescreen credit offers for 5 years and remove your name from their marketing lists. When you place an extended alert you will get free credit reports from several nationwide credit reporting companies. You can get an extended fraud alert if you have already made an Identity Theft Report, thus activating all of these features.
About credit freeze
If you place a credit freeze on your credit file you will be able to do anything that requires a credit report, such as applying for a job, and you will also get a copy of your annual free credit report. You will have to ask the credit reporting company to lift the freeze, either permanently, or temporarily if you want, for example, to allow a potential employer to review your credit report. It is important to note that although a credit freeze does have its uses it may not put misuse of your existing accounts to a halt, and certain companies will still be able to access your credit report under certain conditions. As long as your identity can be verified some creditors will be permitted to get your report.
Being aware of what transactions are being made in your name and understanding what you need to know not only to detect identity theft fast and efficiently, but also to put it to a stop, will keep you safe and protected. Identity theft is a serious crime, so don't be an unwitting victim. Arm yourself with the facts of how to stay mindful and fight back.