Avoid Identity Theft
Important ways that you can help yourself not become a victim of identity theft include destroying (shredding) pre-approved credit card offers you receive in the mail, never give personal information - such as credit card numbers - over the phone, regularly check your credit card and bank statements for irregularities, and always make sure you are on a secure website when shopping on the Internet. If you don't do these things, you could be leaving yourself open to identity theft.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime in which the criminal can apply for credit in your name and then default on the credit, leaving creditors to believe that it was you who defaulted on the credit obligation. Or, the criminal can take over one of your accounts and make changes to it - like ordering additional credit cards or adding names to your account.
How can the criminal do this?
By obtaining your personal information - name, date of birth, and social security number
If your identity has been stolen, you should also do these three things:
- Contact the three major credit card reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) and ask them to flag your accounts with a "fraud alert." In this way all new applications will be verified by calling you first.
- Obtain a copy of your credit card report and review it carefully for unfamiliar transactions.
- Check with your credit card company in a couple of months to confirm that corrections have been made with no further evidence of fraud.