Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?
Approximately 15 million United States residents are victims of identity theft. Their identities are used fraudulently with financial losses each year totaling upwards of $50 billion.*
On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
According to the Federal Trade Commission Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. The number of identity theft incidents has reached 9.9 million a year. Every minute about 19 people fall victim to identity theft.
And according to Wikipedia the Free online Encyclopedia, identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, usually as a method to gain access to resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name.
The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held responsible for the perpetrator’s actions.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes such as when someone uses your personal information and Social Security number to set up new accounts that they can control and use to make purchases, or to even get a tax refund.
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you may need to take several steps to recover from it. The federal government has a one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov
The site provides step-by-step advice and helpful resources like checklists and sample letters to use in your recovery process.
Warning Signs of Identity Theft
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
Some warnings signs of Identity Theft are:
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
If your wallet, Social Security number, or other personal information is lost or stolen, there are to help protect yourself from identity theft.
See the checklist at https://www.identitytheft.gov/