ID theft can happen to anyone. Cyber criminals have multiple markets to buy or sell illicit goods that can be monetized in one way or another. Common goods include personal and financial information that can be used for fraud.
How to Prevent ID Theft
- Watch your credit reports. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report annually from each of the three credit-reporting agencies. Reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Freeze your credit. A credit freeze prevents the credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report to new creditors. Placing a freeze on your report is free. You’ll just need to contact all three credit bureaus and request it. All three allow you to temporarily remove the freeze if you should need to do so.
- Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers may place a fraud alert on their credit report for 90 days — renewable indefinitely.
- Secure your Social Security number (SSN). Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Only give out your SSN when necessary.
- Don’t share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number or bank account number) just because someone asks for it.
- Collect your mail every day and place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days.
what to do If you are a victim of ID theft
- Look to resolution services. Public agencies and non-profit organizations can help you clean up identity theft for free.
- Place an Extended fraud alert on your report, lasting seven years. An extended fraud alert means that a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit. To get an extended fraud alert, you’ll first need an Identity Theft Report, which you can create at www.identitytheft.gov
- Report ID Theft to the FTC. In the United States, you can report your identity theft to the FTC by completing the online form at www.identitytheft.gov or by calling 1-877-438-4338.
- Change all affected account passwords. If one of your existing accounts doesn’t have a strong password, now is the time to create one.