No matter how cautious you are, identity theft is a real possibility. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 4.7 million fraud reports in 2020, and identity theft was the top category, making up almost 30 percent of reported cases.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to file taxes, apply for a credit card or a loan, get medical help, and do other activities. There are a few common signs of identity theft:
- Credit report errors: Taking a look at your credit report is one way to check if your identity has been stolen. You can request a free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus, and there are many reputable apps and websites where you can check your credit score. If something looks suspicious or is inaccurate, there is a chance your identity has been stolen.
- Inaccurate credit card and bank statements: Monitor your bank account and credit card statements for any suspicious activity, like unauthorized charges or withdrawals.
If you are a victim of identity theft, there are ways you can minimize the damage, but you have to act as quickly as possible. There are certain steps you should take.
Immediately contact the company where you have found the fraudulent activity. If someone has access to personal information, like your Social Security number, you need to notify the company as soon as possible.
After notifying the three credit bureaus, you can get a copy of your credit report from each one. You also have the right to ask creditors for copies of any fraudulent activity and ask them to stop any damaging information from reaching the credit bureaus.
File a Report
The FTC gathers information from consumers who are victims of identity theft and may relay that information to government agencies. You can file a report with the FTC, and they may offer recovery plans and forms to dispute the fraudulent activity. You do not have to report a stolen credit card to the FTC.
You can put a fraud alert on your credit report. This is done by contacting all three major credit bureaus.
You can also freeze your credit, which cuts off any access to your credit report. You will have to contact the three credit bureaus if you decide to do this, adding an extra layer of protection.
Take a look at your passwords and change them. Be sure the new ones are all “strong,” especially those used for credit card payments and bank websites.
A password management system can ensure all of your passwords are secure and tough to decipher. Consider setting up two-factor authentication for your sensitive accounts.
Speak With a Lawyer
You may encounter credit report errors, background check errors, debt collection issues, and other problems due to identity theft. It is crucial to speak with a lawyer to understand your rights, and they will help you with the best course of action. If your identity has been stolen, you will want to limit the damage as much as possible, and a lawyer can help you get your life back in order.
Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. can help you with your identity theft case. If your rights have been violated, you may be able to sue for damages and be compensated for out-of-pocket costs. Call 215-735-8600 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, we proudly assist clients nationwide.