Thank you for the opportunity to help you with your question!
1. What is Identity Theft and how it can be prevented.
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. In recent years, the Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to obtain identifying data, such as passwords or even banking information. In their haste to explore the exciting features of the Internet, many people respond to "spam" Â unsolicited E-mail Â that promises them some benefit but requests identifying data, without realizing that in many cases, the requester has no intention of keeping his promise. In some cases, criminals reportedly have used computer technology to obtain large amounts of personal data.
With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual's identity to conduct a wide range of crimes: for example, false applications for loans and credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, or obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name. If the criminal takes steps to ensure that bills for the falsely obtained credit cards, or bank statements showing the unauthorized withdrawals, are sent to an address other than the victim's, the victim may not become aware of what is happening until the criminal has already inflicted substantial damage on the victim's assets, credit, and reputation.
2. Identify the steps you should take if you are a victim of identity theft
Keep a record.Because recovering from identity theft can be a long and complicated process, it's important to keep a record of all communications. Send all letters by certified mail and keep copies. If you think your case might lead to a lawsuit, keep track of how much time you spend dealing with the problem.
Call the police.Report the crime to the police or sheriff's department that has jurisdiction in your case and request a police report. Though the authorities are often unable to assist you, a police report may be necessary to help convince creditors that someone else has opened an account in your name.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission.Call the FTC's identity theft hotline at 877-438-4338 and file a complaint. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer problems itself, but your complaint may lead to law enforcement action.
Check your credit report.Get your credit report and check for inquiries that you do not recognize and any new accounts opened in your name. Because new accounts may take up to six months to show up on the report, continue to monitor your credit report. Get the3-in-1 Credit Reportand see your credit history as reported by the three major nationwide credit reporting companies.
Contact the three Credit Reporting Agencies.Have one of the agencies put a fraud alert on your file, which will aid in preventing new credit accounts from being opened without your express permission.
3. How can you protect yourself from having your identity stolen or compromised?
Only carry essential documents
Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you outside the house can help you prevent identity theft.
Keep new checks out of the mail.
When ordering new checks, you can prevent identity theft by picking them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered and cashed by identity thieves.
Be careful when giving out personal information over
Identity thieves may call, posing as banks or government agencies. To prevent identity theft, do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
Your trash is their treasure.
To prevent identity theft, shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before throwing it away.
Make sure others are keeping you safe.
Ensure that your employer, landlord and anyone else with access to your personal data keeps your records safe.
Stay on top of your credit.
Make sure your credit reports are accurate and that yousign up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report – a helpful way to prevent identity theft.
Protect your Social Security Number.
To prevent identity theft, make sure your bank does not print your Social Security Number on your personal checks.
Follow your credit card billing cycles closely.Identity thieves can start by changing your billing address. Making sure you receive your credit card bill every month is an easy way to prevent identity theft.
Keep a list of account numbers, expiration dates and
telephone numbers filed away.
If your wallet is stolen, being able to quickly alert your creditors is essential to prevent identity theft.
Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix
of letters and numbers.
Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes, and makes it easier for you to prevent identity theft.
Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions.
Content will be erased after question is completed.