Identity Theft is a common, sophisticated scam that is continually evolving to keep up with the latest headlines and technology. In light of recent mailbox thefts, BBB warns consumers to be vigilant about protecting their personally identifiable information (PII) and checking their credit report regularly.
Crooks find new ways to steal your identity every day and you typically don’t know about it until it’s too late. But there are things you should do once you become aware your PII is or could be in the hands of a thief.
“Even when you’re diligent about keeping your information protected, ID Theft can still happen,” said Janna Kiehl, President, BBB of the Texas Panhandle. “Regular monitoring of all accounts along with a few tips will help you stay on top of your PII.”
How can someone steal your identity? In short, identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, without your prior knowledge, to commit fraud or theft.
“Thieves only steal your information to use it for their gain, which hurts you and can hurt your credit report,” said Kiehl. It will hurt you when you go to buy a car, refinance a home, apply for credit, open an account, rent an apartment or even get a job.
Always protect your PII. When a breech happens, act quickly to alert creditors and take necessary measures to prevent further damage or loss.
Tips to help prevent Identity Theft:
· Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com
· Monitor your credit report regularly and report any suspicious activity.
· Check account transactions and balances frequently. Make sure charges were made by you. If you notice unusual activity, report it immediately.
In case of a breech:
· Notify the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian.
· Alert your bank
· Get a police report.
· If you believe an account was fraudulently opened in your name, let the company know.
· Consider adding a fraud alert or freeze to your credit report which will alert you of any activity and can restrict access to your credit report.
· Report it to the FTC https://www.identitytheft.gov 877.IDTHEFT 877.438.4338 and BBB 806/379-6222 www.bbb.org/Amarillo
Complete an ID Theft Affidavit at the FTC site and take a look at the tools to help you with the process.