How can someone steal your identity? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years - and their hard-earned money - cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
If you think your identity has been stolen, here's what to do NOW:
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the Federal Trade Commissions site for recovering from identity theft.
- Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts, and all three credit reports will be sent to you free of charge.
- File an Identity Theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. When you file an Identity Theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the system will create an Identity Theft Affidavit you can use when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
- File a police report with the Pacific Grove Police Department. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
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