Identity theft happens when your personal information, typically your Social Security Number (SSN), is stolen and used to commit fraud or theft. The thief can use this information to rent apartments, buy cell phones, access your bank account or obtain loans and credit cards. In worst-case scenarios, thieves can even hold a job or commit a crime using your identity.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, (FTC), as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. A person whose identity has been stolen can spend months—and hundreds of dollars—to clean up their good name or credit record. For more information about Identity Theft, please visit the FTC Web site at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
Here are a few helpful suggestions to lower the chance it will happen to you.
Identity theft can happen even if you think you have taken precautions to protect yourself. If you suspect your personal information has been misused to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately.
Keep a log of all conversations, including dates, names and phone numbers. Note time spent and any expenses incurred, in case you are able to request restitution in a later judgment or conviction against the thief. Confirm all conversations in writing. Send correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep copies of all letters and documents.
Report fraud: 800-525-6285
P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348
Report fraud: 888-397-3742
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Report fraud: 800-680-7289
P.O. Box 1426, Buffalo, NY 14231
Federal Trade Commission
Identity Theft Resource Center
U.S. Dept. Of Justice