Every year millions of people in the United States are affected by identity theft. Credit cards, social security numbers, and bank account numbers are the most commonly compromised forms of personal information. Thieves can change the billing address on a credit card account, make charges to it, and run up bills which they will not pay. The credit card company then reports the unpaid account under the original card owner’s name.
Identity theft can also occur when criminals write checks, authorize electronic transfers to a bank account, or file for bankruptcy under the person’s name. They can also get a driver’s license and other forms of identification in someone else’s name, buy a car, or file fraudulent tax returns. To be protected from these actions, one must be aware of their surroundings at all times – thieves can steal personal information at home, from the mail, on the street by stealing a wallet, or even at work. Employee records and personal information can be accessed in the office. Employees can sometimes be tricked into revealing such details.
Protect your identity by putting things in a safe place at home, making sure wallets are not easily accessible, and by being aware of the signs of identity theft. If something has been stolen or there is evidence that someone has unauthorized access to an account, close the bank or credit card account as soon as possible.
Complaints can be also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission by phone or online. Always keep an eye on your credit report to make sure it’s accurate.