In the wake of recent, large-scale data breaches, it might be a good time to discuss what could happen when your personal information falls into the hands of the wrong person. Identity theft is a common and growing problem as today’s thieves get more resourceful and more technologically advanced. Some may rummage through your or a company’s garbage, some will target you directly, hoping to trick you into revealing personal information, and others will execute complex hacking techniques. Whatever the method may be, the outcome remains the same: these thieves and scammers get a hold of your personal and sensitive information.
Once these thieves have your information, they can withdraw money from your bank account, charge purchases to your credit card, file a tax refund in your name and even get medical treatment under your health insurance.
The following are a few signs that you have been a victim of identity theft:
- Unfamiliar withdrawals from your bank account
- Missing bills and other mail
- Calls from debt collectors about debts that aren’t yours
- Unauthorized charges to your credit card
- Medical bills for services you did not receive
- Multiple tax returns were filed in your name
It is extremely important to monitor all of your sensitive accounts for identity theft, especially following a data breach in which your information may have been compromised. If you believe your information was compromised and you have been the victim of identity theft, always take immediate action in order to stop an identity thief from doing further damage.
Follow these three steps as soon as possible:
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert
- Order Your Credit Reports
- Create an Identity Theft Report
Identity theft is not the end of the world. However, it takes a great deal of time and effort to reverse the potential damage to your sensitive accounts. Once a report has been filed you will want to monitor these accounts for fraud and frequently check your credit reports for any additional or recent damage.
For more information from the FTC on identity theft and solutions, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/repairing-identity-theft.
Original article written by Hannah Sassi, Communications Intern for the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, VA.