Every year we hear stories of companies’ systems being hacked into; about a friend or family member having their information stolen. Perhaps someone you know discovered that their taxes were filed before they had a chance to do so. Identity Theft is a daily crime and there are multiple ways that someone may steal your identity. The following are just some of the ways that it can be used:
- To access current credit cards.
- To open new credit cards in your name.
- To have utilities turned on.
- To commit tax fraud.
- Medical fraud.
- Steal money from your financial accounts.
Although there is no 100% protection against the theft, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk:
- Remove any unnecessary identification from your purse or wallet.
- Shred everything before disposing of it.
- Limit the printed data on checks and reconcile frequently to better track any missing checks.
- Use multiple passwords and change them frequently.
- Don’t over share on social sites, i.e. listing your address and phone number on Facebook.
- Pull all three of your free credit reports at least once a year.
- Beware of phishing scams through email.
- Don’t give out account numbers by phone or email.
- Be careful about leaving documents sitting in the seat of your vehicle.
- Have your mail delivered to a secure box.
- If you have been a victim, make sure to notify the IRS so that extra measures can be put into place to protect your ability to file.
If you believe you have already been a victim of ID Theft, then you need to file a police report even if the theft happened 20 years ago and you are just now discovering it. Place either a 90-day Fraud Alert or an indefinite Freeze on your Credit Reports; you may call any one of the three reporting agencies to do this. You should also contact your financial institutions and lines of credit to make them aware of the situation and have them issue new cards.
On the website of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is an Identity Theft Report that you can print and fill out to assist you with the police. For any account that has been falsely opened or used in your name, then a dispute letter is the next step to explain the theft and remove the debt from your name. And don’t forget to contact CCCS (785-827-6731 or 316-265-2000) with any questions or concerns you may have about the process.