Submitted by the Better Business Bureau
Identity theft is a common and sophisticated scam that continually evolves to keep up with the latest titles and technologies. In light of recent mailbox thefts, BBB warns consumers to be vigilant about protecting their personally identifiable information (PII) and to check their credit report regularly.
Scammers find new ways to steal your identity every day and you usually don’t know until it’s too late. But there are things you should do once you realize that your PII is or could be in the hands of a thief.
“Even when you are diligent about protecting your information, identity theft can still happen,” said Janna Kiehl, president, BBB of the Texas Panhandle. “Regular monitoring of all accounts along with some guidance will help you stay on top of your PII.”
How can someone steal your identity? In short, identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or theft.
“Thieves only steal your information to use it for their own gain, which hurts you and can hurt your credit report,” Kiehl said. It will hurt you when you go to buy a car, refinance a house, apply for a loan, open an account, rent an apartment or even find a job.
Always protect your PII. When a breach occurs, act quickly to alert creditors and take action to prevent further damage or loss.
Tips to help prevent identity theft:
Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com
· Regularly monitor your credit report and report any suspicious activity.
· Check transactions and account balances frequently. Make sure the charges were billed by you. If you notice unusual activity, report it immediately.
In case of cylinder head:
· Notify credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian.
Alert your bank
· Obtain a police report.
· If you believe an account has been fraudulently opened in your name, notify the company.
· Consider adding a fraud alert or freeze to your credit file, which will alert you to any activity and may restrict access to your credit file.
Report it to the FTC https://www.identitytheft.gov 877.IDTHEFT 877.438.4338 and BBB 806/379-6222 www.bbb.org/Amarillo
Complete an identity theft affidavit on the FTC site and take a look at the tools to help you through the process.