Identity theft is a serious crime. If you’ve recently been a victim of identity theft, you need to understand how your personal information was taken from you, and learn how to protect yourself. You need to know what to do if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
When you are the victim of identity theft, you may find yourself in a difficult position. You need to understand that there are things that you can do to recover your identity, but that you cannot do anything to prevent identity theft from happening in the first place.
Identity theft happens to everyone, but it’s scary when it happens to you. You might be angry. You might be worried. You might even feel like it’s your fault. But in all actuality, a lot of the time, identity theft is just a random victimization of another victim’s misfortune.
I remember it was December and I got a call from my credit card company. Did you make two big purchases in the Florida area about an hour ago? No, I said. I live in Michigan and haven’t used a credit card all day. Okay, respond to the credit card company, we think it’s a fraudulent transaction and we’ll walk you through the next steps. That was my first exposure to identity theft. Somehow this person got my credit card information or made a physical copy of my card and used it to make illegal purchases. Honestly, I was shocked! Identity theft is a topic that has been in the news and on the internet a lot lately. But you never think you’re the next person they get the information from. And unfortunately, with all the massive data center leaks over the past decade, chances are your information has already entered the public domain. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, the FTC received 4.8 million reports of identity theft and fraud by 2020. That’s a 45% increase from the previous year’s 3.3 million in 2019. In total, this means that nearly one in twenty Americans has been a victim of some form of identity theft. This makes you wonder: Is there anything you can do to make sure your data stays safe and doesn’t fall into the hands of fraudsters? Answer: Yes! This article will tell you what to do if you think you have been a victim of identity theft and what the next steps are. We will also discuss how you can avoid being scammed in the future.
Understanding types of identity theft
Identity theft has taken many forms in recent decades. As technology advances, thieves find new and fraudulent ways to rob people of their personal information and ultimately their money. Here are some of the most common forms of identity theft you can read about:
- Unauthorised use of a credit card. As in my story, it’s when someone makes a purchase with your credit card information or a copy of your credit card. Sometimes people make large purchases, but another new trend is to make relatively small purchases so they go unnoticed. This also applies to debit cards.
- Apply for credit or open new accounts. Sometimes, after obtaining your information, thieves try to open a brand new credit card or even apply for a loan with no intention of paying it back. I’ve heard that this often happens to 18 year olds who apply for their first credit card and find out they’ve been turned down because they have a fraudulent loan in their name with a late payment.
- Acceptance of invoice. In this scenario, thieves use your information to access your savings or investment accounts. They then use it to make purchases or transfer all possessions.
- Government benefits or tax evasion. Fraudsters can also use your identity to gain access to government benefits such as tax refunds, social security, unemployment benefits, etc. For example, when the federal government began issuing COVID stimulus checks, scammers used every trick in the book to steal those checks from people by sending fake emails, making fake phone calls, and even creating fake websites.
What to do if you think you are a victim of identity theft
If you’ve noticed lately that you’re not making purchases with your credit card or banking transactions, the first thing you need to do… Don’t panic! Take a deep breath, stay calm and perform the following steps:
1. Call your financial institution and report the situation
Contact your bank or credit card company and tell them immediately that you think you are a victim of fraud. Identify specific transactions that were not made by you and answer any questions they have as part of the process of declaring identity theft.
2. Consider freezing your accounts
I know my first reaction when I got a call from a credit card company was to cancel all my credit cards to stop the scammers. However, such an extreme reaction is not really necessary. To block further transactions, you can call your credit card companies and ask them to temporarily freeze your accounts. This will give you time to come to your senses and decide what action to take.
3. Creditworthiness assessment
Sometimes it’s just the tip of the iceberg when you notice something suspicious in your finances. To make sure the situation isn’t worse than you think, download a free copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus and start checking for discrepancies. If you find a bill you don’t recognize, report it immediately. Even if you find nothing, you should set up a fraud alert so the credit bureaus are aware of the situation.
4. File a complaint with the FTC
All cases of identity theft must be reported to the FTC through IdentityTheft.gov. The FTC is responsible for documenting all cases and looking for patterns. If certain situations begin to affect enough people, they may investigate or even take legal action against the scammers. At the very least, the FTC can help victims by providing resources to dispute the charges and remove the items from their credit report.
5. Report to local authorities
Depending on the situation or extent of the fraud, you may be able to report it to the police. Sometimes the police have the resources or can call on other branches of the judiciary to help investigate these crimes. At the very least, it can be helpful to have a police report in case you need it later to prove your innocence or to plead a case.
Am I responsible for fraudulent purchases and losses?
And now the million-dollar question: If you are a victim of identity theft, who is paying for all these illegal transactions? Or if someone stole money from your bank, would you lose all that money forever? That was my big fear when I got a call from a credit card company. I imagined a nightmare where I had to prove my innocence and argue with them about who should pay for these fictional purchases. But fortunately that didn’t happen. Identity theft has become a common problem over the past few decades, but the good news is that there are now laws and policies in place to protect consumers. Here are a few that are handy to have in your pocket:
Purchases by credit card
Under the Fair Credit Billing Act,consumers can be held liable for up to $50. In my case, the credit card company had a great zero liability policy. This means that I was in no way responsible for these costs and did not have to pay them. I have noticed that this is now more common with other credit cards.
Purchases by credit card
According to FTC Section, you are not liable if someone uses your bank or credit card number for unauthorized spending if you report the problem within 60 days.
Stolen bank accounts
According to the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, if you see any suspicious activity inside:
- 0-2 days after the transaction date, you will be responsible for $50 in unauthorized charges.
- 3 to 60 days after the transaction date, you are then responsible for $500 in unauthorized charges.
- 61 days or more after the transaction date, you are responsible for all unauthorized charges.
After filing a claim, the bank has 10 days to investigate and refund the money if it determines that the actions were indeed fraudulent. You may think that the FDIC will pay for the money stolen from your bank account as a result of identity theft. However, it appears that they will not. Instead, most banks have their own insurance or some sort of customer protection plan that limits liability and helps recover lost money or money used for fraudulent purchases. Although the bank may refund your money within 10 days, it may take 45 to 90 days to investigate, depending on the situation. If they determine that the shares were not fraudulent, you must return the money to the bank – even if you have already issued it.
If someone has taken out a personal loan in your name, you don’t need to worry. In almost all U.S. states, you are not liable for debts incurred in fake accounts opened without your permission.
Insurance against identity theft
While there are laws and regulations that can help limit your liability for identity theft, sometimes the situation can be more complicated. For example, if you notice suspicious banking activity that occurred three months ago, by law you are 100% responsible for those transactions because they exceed the 60-day threshold. In this case, there is much more to do than make a phone call or two. There can be many issues between you and the financial institution, document collection, and even lawsuits. In addition to these costs, you may have to take time off work, resulting in lost wages. This is where identity theft insurance can come in handy. This is a type of insurance that covers any additional costs associated with the solution. The only thing to note is that identity theft insurance only covers post-event costs. Unfortunately, they do not directly reimburse you for losses resulting from fraudulent transactions.
Stolen Identity Recovery Service
In addition to the costs involved in combating identity theft, there is the process itself. If you don’t know what you are doing and don’t have the energy, it will cost you a lot of money in legal fees. This is why some people turn to an identity recovery service after identity theft. These are agencies that essentially do the heavy lifting to repair the damage done by scammers. They handle not only all the paperwork and phone calls, but also the legal aspects of challenging fraudulent claims. This service may cost you $20-30 per month, but it may be worth it. Not only do they not have to spend time cleaning up the mess themselves, but they can resolve situations more efficiently and quickly than you would be.
How to avoid identity theft in the future
Since I know how easy it is to hack my credit card information and other data, I have become much more vigilant about protecting my information. Here are some simple rules I follow to avoid problems and protect my finances.
- Check your accounts regularly. Regularly check transactions and even entire accounts that you are not aware of.
- Use stronger passwords. If your password is your pet’s name or your date of birth, you can only get into trouble. A good password should be at least 12 characters long and contain combinations of letters, numbers, capital letters and special characters.
- Change your passwords often. Passwords for your online accounts should not only be complex, but also changed regularly. It is recommended to use them every 3 to 6 months.
- Enable two-factor authentication. In addition to a strong password, you can add an extra layer of security by sending a special code to your phone or email before you can log into your account. This works well not only for bank accounts, but also for online retailers like Amazon (we’ve had problems with unauthorized transactions there too).
- Never give out your social security number. Unless you apply for a credit card, get a new job, or file a tax return, no one needs to have or ask for your Social Security number. Guard it like a dark family secret.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi networks. If you use public Wi-Fi, hackers can see almost everything you send. So if you have something important to do, like. B. To log in to your email, make a purchase, or access your bank account, you must wait until you have a private connection again.
- Do not buy from unscrupulous websites. There’s a reason why sites like Amazon and eBay are among the most popular online sellers: they’re also the most reliable. Every time I see an ad on Facebook or a website offering something at a price that is too good to be true, it probably is. Ignore it, because it’s probably a fake website trying to steal your data.
- Distribute pre-approved proposals. If you receive a credit card or loan offer in the mail that you don’t need, tear it up before you throw it away. Even though it’s a bit old-fashioned, thieves still go through trash looking for the kind of documents that can reveal your personal information.
- Do not fall into the trap of phishing emails. Every day I get emails from people claiming to be Amazon, Netflix, Apple, ….. even the IRS. Whatever you do, never follow the links in these emails. This is nothing more than a scam to get you to give them your information. Or worse, they secretly download malware and ransomware onto your computer to steal your personal information and hold your computer hostage. Just delete the letter.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, at any time. It could be a fraudulent transaction or withdrawal, a loan you didn’t ask for, or even someone claiming your government benefits. If you think you are a victim of identity theft, stay calm. Call your financial institution and ask them to explain the steps you need to take. You can also take further action and report the matter to credit bureaus, the FTC and local authorities. The good news with identity theft is that you are usually not responsible for most purchases. Most credit card companies and banks will not accept fees and may have policies in place to help you get your lost money back. However, as a precaution, you should not hesitate to consider identity theft insurance and identity recovery services. Above all, be careful with your personal information: Keep an eye on your accounts, use good passwords and avoid questionable websites and Wi-Fi networks. It’s your money, and the more vigilant you are, the better protected it will be.
Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were a total of 7.6 million victims of identity theft in 2013. This was a 5% increase from 2012. The most common form of identity theft is someone using someone else’s personal information to get a loan, credit card or other financial product. If you are a victim of identity theft, you should make sure you deal with your identity theft claims in a timely manner. If not, you may be opening yourself up to additional financial exposure.. Read more about how to check if someone is using my identity and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you do if you are a victim of identity theft?
When we’re talking about identity theft, we’re often talking about someone else’s personal information being used to try and get money or items from a bank account or credit card. The problem is that there are many other ways that someone’s identity could be stolen, such as by being tricked into giving out personal information to get a “winning” lottery ticket or to get employment or a loan. When the economy went into decline in 2008, many people lost their jobs. In the process, they lost their homes and their life savings. Now, years later, they are all of a sudden finding out, too late, that their personal information has been compromised, and that they’ve been the unwitting victims of identity theft. To stop the identity theft from spreading, people need to know what to do, and how to do it.
What are my rights as a victim of identity theft?
Identity theft is a terrible crime that affects thousands of people every year. It’s also one of the most commonly committed crimes in the United States. It can be difficult to sort through the many options for protection and compensation after you’ve been a victim. The good news is that you can take steps to reduce your risk of becoming a victim and recover more quickly if you are indeed the victim of identity theft. When you are a victim of identity theft, you are vulnerable to the theft of all of your personal information, including your name, address, phone number, social security number, bank account, etc. It is important to protect yourself and remain vigilant, since you may not be aware of the thief’s actions and may not know when the thief may strike. The first thing you should do is contact the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
What are the 5 steps you should take if you are the victim of identity theft?
Identity theft is a growing problem, yet most people are unaware that it is a real and growing problem. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, identity theft is on the rise, as is the number of consumers who are victims. The cost to victims is staggering, with a report from the Federal Trade Commission showing that identity theft victims spend an average of $3,645 to resolve the problem, for a total economic loss estimated at $1.9 billion. You may not realize it, but identity theft is a full-blown scam that can quickly turn into a nightmare. It can happen to anyone without warning. Cybercriminals take advantage of our desire for things we want, like free music, products, cash back, and points.
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