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What Is Identity Theft?

It occurs when your personal information is used by another, without consent, for the purpose of committing fraud and other crimes. You may be unaware your information has been used inappropriately until you are denied credit or receive a bill for purchases you did not make!

There are several forms of identity theft.

  1. Phishing occurs when personal information is obtained when someone claims to represent a legitimate corporation or government entity to get your information for fraudulent purposes.
  2. Skimming occurs when someone obtains your credit card information through an otherwise legitimate transaction and uses it without your permission.
  3. Medical ID theft occurs when someone uses your name and health insurance or Medicare information to obtain or bill for health care products and services.
  4. Identity theft also occurs when credit cards or checks are physically stolen and used to make purchases.To protect from identity theft, you must protect your personal information and regularly check your financial information for unusual transactions.

How To Prevent Identity Theft

  • Do not provide your personal or financial information to unsolicited requests.
  • Review all your bank and credit card statements immediately and challenge any unauthorized transactions.
  • Be sure to shred expired bank cards and all documents that contain personal or financial information.
  • Request your credit report once a year from annualcreditreport.com.  Review the report for any accounts or transactions you do not recognize.  If you find problems in your report, contact the credit reporting agency to challenge them.

Anytime you suspect your information has been stolen, place a fraud alert on your credit report with each credit reporting agency.   Finally, when you find you have been a victim of identity theft, call law enforcement!

Credit Reporting Agencies

Have you experienced identity theft?  If so, feel free to add your comments.  However, I know it can be embarrassing to talk about, so you may not want to sign off on your comments with your real name.  How long did it take you to recover from it financially?  Do you take precautions like covering your hand when typing in your debit card code at the checkout or automated teller?