Identity theft is when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission.
Perpetrators might steal your name and address, credit card, or bank account numbers, social security number, or medical insurance account numbers. And they could use them to:
- buy things with your credit cards.
- get new credit cards in your name.
- open a phone, electricity, or gas account in your name.
- steal your tax refund.
- use your health insurance to get medical care.
- pretend to be you if they are arrested.
How to protect against Identity Theft?
Protecting yourself from identity theft is essential in today’s digital age. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of identity theft:
Secure Personal Information:
- Store sensitive documents like your social security cards, passports, and financial records in a secure location.
- Shred or securely dispose of documents containing personal information before discarding them.
Be Cautious with Personal Information:
- Don’t share personal information (e.g., social security number, bank account details) over the phone or email unless you initiated the contact with a trusted entity.
- Be cautious about sharing personal information on social media.
Protect Your Mail:
- Use a mailbox with a lock or consider a P.O. Box to prevent mail theft.
- Choose paperless billing and statements to reduce the risk of physical mail fraud.
Check Your Credit Report:
- Obtain free credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and review them for discrepancies.
- Consider using a credit monitoring service for ongoing monitoring.
Remember that no measure is foolproof, but taking these steps can significantly reduce your vulnerability to identity theft. Being vigilant and proactive is key to safeguarding your personal information.
How do I order my free credit reports?
The three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — have a centralized website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address so you can order your free reports in one place. Do not contact the three credit bureaus individually. These are the only ways to order your free annual credit reports:
- visit AnnualCreditReport.com
- call 1-877-322-8228, or
- complete the Annual Credit Report Request (pdf)
and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
How often can I get a free report?
Great news: you now have permanent access to free weekly credit reports. The three national credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — have permanently extended a program that lets you check your credit report at each of the agencies once a week for free.