You get your mail, just like every other day. Along with the junk mail and magazines is an envelope from your credit card company. When you see the balance, suddenly this normal routine isnâ€™t so normal. Youâ€™ve been a victim of identity theft.
What Exactly Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone unlawfully obtains anotherâ€™s personal information and uses it to commit theft or fraud. There are many different types of identity theft; including financial, medical, criminal, and social security theft, with financial theft occurring most frequently.
Can It Happen To Me?
Approximately 12 million US residents have their identity stolen every year, with the financial losses totaling upwards of $50 Billion. This means that about 7% of the population will be affected by identity theft every year with an average loss of about $5,130. A typical identity theft crime takes an estimated 30 hours and $500 to resolve.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Identity theft can occur in a few different ways. Identity thieves can use tactics online such as phishing scams, which require you to enter private information into pages that look legitimate but are not. Identity theft can also occur by someone simply digging through your trash and stealing a pre-approved credit card you threw out instead of shredding. Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft: 1. Keep personal information (social security number, address, telephone number, date of birth) private. 2. Donâ€™t carry important papers (birth certificate or social security card) in your wallet. 3. Change online account passwords to something long and complex. 4. Shred any mail that has private information such as bank account numbers on it or pre-approved credit cards. 5. Do not use your credit card online unless it is with a trusted source on a secure site. 6. Monitor your bank account statements regularly and check for unauthorized purchases. If there is an unauthorized purchase, report it immediately.
What Do I Do if My Identity Has Been Stolen?
If you believe that your identity has been stolen, here are the steps you should take:
1. Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus, contacting their fraud departments directly.
They can be contacted at:
Equifax (www.equifax.com): 800-525-6285
Experian (www.experian.com): 888-397-3742
TransUnion (www.transunion.com): 800-680-7289
2. Request new cards with new account numbers to replace the compromised ones.Â
3. File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC maintains a database of all identity theft cases for use in law enforcement investigations.
4. Contact your local police department or sheriffâ€™s office to file an identity theft report. You will want to supply them with your FTC ID Complaint form as well as all information pertaining to the case including the account numbers of the affected accounts.
No one wants to be a victim of Identity Theft. By taking the proper precautions, it is less likely to happen to you. Click here for more information on Identity Theft and how to protect yourself. If you think someone has stolen your identity, give Wallkill Valley Federal Savings and Loan a call at 845-895-2051 as soon as you suspect something is not right. Weâ€™ll walk you through the steps of how to resolve your issue and help any way we can.