Educational Consumer Tips
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Identity Theft

Author: Better Business Bureau
Category: Finance

Identity Theft can come in many forms.

Tax Refund Fraud is on the rise. If someone files taxes or obtains a refund with your info, call the IRS’ Identity Theft Line: (800)-908-4490.

Medical Identity Theft occurs when someone seeks medical care in your name. If you see charges to your insurance for services not received, call the insurance company or medical provider immediately to dispute.

Credit/Debit Card Fraud remains the most common form of identity theft. Monitor your accounts closely and watch for unauthorized/suspicious charges. If you lose a card or see suspicious charges, call the issuer/bank IMMEDIATELY through a verified phone number. If you give your account or card info to someone in error, notify the issuer ASAP. Never provide personal info to anyone over the phone claiming to be with your bank or any government agency; hang up, call back using a verified phone number and confirm the call/caller’s validity.

The following are indications that your identity may have been compromised:

·Unexplainable withdrawals from bank accounts.
·Debt collectors calling you about unknown debts.
·Unfamiliar accounts or charges on credit reports.
·Medical providers or insurance companies billing unused services.
·IRS notification of multiple tax refund filings or income from an unknown employer.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, follow these three steps immediately:

1. Place a fraud alert with all 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, Experian).
2. Order a copy of your credit report.
3. Create an Identity Theft Report with the FTC and your local police department.

You can also place a credit “freeze” with all three bureaus. Follow up in writing with a letter of dispute to the bureaus and institutions that may have opened an account in your name. This letter can be obtained from the FTC.

Simple steps to safeguard your identity include:

·Keep financial documents and records in a safe place at home.
·Ask why certain information is needed and how the company will use it before providing it to them and carefully reading privacy policies.
·Shred receipts, credit offers and applications, insurance forms, checks, bank statements, etc.
·Destroy labels on prescription bottles before throwing them away.
·Opt out of credit card offers by mail. To opt out, call (888)-567-8688
·Use strong passwords (numbers, letters and changes in capitalization) with your e-mail, credit, bank and other accounts.
·Don’t “overshare” personal information on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
·Don’t open files, click on links or download programs sent by strangers.
·Don’t give out private info on the phone, the mail or the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and verified the receiver.