What To Know About Identity Theft

Learn what identity theft is, how to protect yourself against it, and how to know if someone stole your identity.

  • What Is Identity Theft?
  • How To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
  • How To Know if Someone Stole Your Identity
  • Monitoring Services, Recovery Services, and Identity Theft Insurance

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal or fiscal information without your permission.

They might steal your name and address, credit card, or bank account numbers, Social Security number, or medical insurance account numbers. And they could apply them to

  • buy things with your credit cards
  • get new credit cards in your name
  • open a telephone, electricity, or gas account in your proper noun
  • steal your tax refund
  • employ your health insurance to get medical care
  • pretend to exist you if they are arrested

How To Protect Yourself Confronting Identity Theft

Taking steps to protect your personal data can help y’all avoid identity theft. Here’s what yous can practice to stay ahead of identity thieves.

Protect documents that have personal data

Keep your fiscal records, Social Security and Medicare cards, and any other documents that take personal information in a rubber place. When you decide to get rid of those documents, shred them before you throw them away. If you don’t have a shredder, await for a local shred day, or use a marker to block out business relationship numbers.

If you get statements with personal data in the mail, take your postal service out of the mailbox as soon as yous tin can.

Enquire questions earlier giving out your Social Security number

Some organizations need your Social Security number to identify you. Those organizations include the IRS, your bank, and your employer. Organizations like these that do need your Social Security number won’t call, email, or text you to enquire for it.

Other organizations that might ask you for your Social Security number might not really need information technology. Those organizations include a medical provider, a company, or your child’s schoolhouse. Ask these questions earlier y’all give them your Social Security number:

  • Why practice you need information technology?
  • How will you protect it?
  • Tin you use a different identifier?
  • Can you use just the last four digits of my Social Security number?
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Protect your information from scammers online and on your telephone

If y’all’re logging in to an online business relationship, employ a strong password.

Add multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer it. Multi-factor authentication offers extra security by requiring ii or more than credentials to log in to your account. The additional credentials you need to log in to your account fall into ii categories: something you take — similar a passcode you get via text message or an hallmark app, or something you are — like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face. Multi-factor authentication makes information technology harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password.

Do non give your personal data to someone who calls, emails, or texts yous. It could be a scammer trying to steal your information.

How To Know if Someone Stole Your Identity

In improver to taking steps to protect your information, information technology pays to know how to tell if someone stole your identity. There are things you tin exercise yourself to discover identity theft. At that place also are companies that sell credit and identity monitoring services.

What you can do to detect identity theft

Here’southward what you tin can do to spot identity theft:

  • Rails what bills you owe and when they’re due.
    If you stop getting a bill, that could be a sign that someone changed your billing address.
  • Review your bills.Charges for things you didn’t purchase could be a sign of identity theft. And then could a new neb you didn’t expect.
  • Check your bank account statement.Withdrawals you didn’t brand could be a sign of identity theft.
  • Get and review your credit reports. Accounts in your name that you don’t recognize could be a sign of identity theft. Hither’southward how you can get your gratuitous credit reports.

If y’all detect that someone is misusing your personal data, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report and recover from identity theft.

Monitoring Services, Recovery Services, and Identity Theft Insurance

Many companies sell identity theft protection services that may include credit monitoring, identity monitoring, identity recovery services, and identity theft insurance. These services likewise might be offered by your

  • bank or credit matrimony
  • credit carte provider
  • employer’south benefits program
  • insurance company
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Credit monitoring services

Credit monitoring services scan activity that shows up on your credit reports. They might monitor activity at one, ii, or all three of the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Credit monitoring services will usually alert yous when

  • a visitor checks your credit history
  • a new loan or credit card account appears on your credit reports
  • a creditor or debt collector says your payment is belatedly
  • public records show that you lot filed for defalcation
  • someone files a lawsuit confronting you
  • your credit limit changes
  • your personal data, similar your proper noun, address, or phone number, changes

Credit monitoring services
will not
alert you when

  • someone withdraws money from your banking concern business relationship
  • someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax return and collect your refund

If you’re considering using a credit monitoring service, here are some questions you can ask them:

  • How oft practise you check credit reports for changes?
  • Which of the three credit bureaus practise you monitor?
  • Is there a limit to how often I can review my credit reports?
  • Volition I be charged each time I review my credit reports?
  • Are other services included, similar access to my credit score?

Identity monitoring services

Companies that offer identity monitoring services cheque databases that collect different types of information to see if they incorporate new or inaccurate information about you. Those could be a sign that someone is using your personal data. These services can notice uses of your personal information that won’t testify upward on your credit report.

Identity monitoring services may tell you when your information shows upward in

  • a change of address request
  • court or arrest records
  • orders for new utility, cablevision, or wireless services
  • an awarding for a payday loan
  • a request to cash a check
  • on social media
  • on websites that identity thieves use to merchandise stolen information
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Most identity monitoring services
volition not
alert you if someone uses your data to

  • file a tax render and collect your refund
  • get Medicare benefits
  • get Medicaid benefits
  • go welfare benefits
  • merits Social Security benefits
  • claim unemployment benefits

Identity recovery services

Companies that sell credit and identity monitoring services also may offering identity recovery services to help you fix any damage caused by identity theft. These services may be included or price extra. Some of the services they offer may be things you can exercise on your own for footling or no toll.

Identity recovery services typically requite yous access to counselors or case managers who will assistance you recover your identity. They may

  • help you write letters to creditors and debt collectors
  • place a freeze on your credit report to forbid an identity thief from opening new accounts in your proper noun
  • guide you through documents yous have to review

Some services will stand for you lot in dealing with creditors or other institutions if you formally grant them say-so to act on your behalf.

Identity theft insurance

Companies that sell monitoring services also may offering identity theft insurance. These services may be included or cost extra.

Identity theft insurance may cover

  • out-of-pocket expenses directly associated with reclaiming your identity, like
    • the price of copying documents
    • postage costs for sending documents
    • costs for getting documents notarized
  • wages you lost
  • legal fees you lot paid

Identity theft insurance generally won’t reimburse yous for money stolen or financial loss resulting from the theft. Most policies won’t pay if your loss is covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If you’re considering getting identity theft insurance, inquire about the deductible and find out what’s covered and what isn’t.

Find out how to recognize the signs of medical identity theft, tax identity theft, and child identity theft.