1 Out of 3 Americans Are Victims of Identity Theft: How to Make Sure Identity Theft Does Not Happen to You Again

October 31, 2014

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, approximately one-third of Americans have been victims of identity theft. Identity theft is a broad category that encompasses everything from stolen credit card numbers that result in fraudulent charges to crimes that involve another person actually taking on your identity. There is no way to ensure that identity theft will never happen to you. Also, there is a good chance it already has. Instead of hoping for the best, take action to ensure that identity theft does not happen to you again.

 

Move as Quickly as Possible After You Are Aware of Identity Theft

Do not wait for the next banking day or a convenient time to report credit card theft. Call the number on the back of your card as soon as possible to report the suspected theft. In almost all cases, it is better to be safe than sorry. Report suspected theft, even if you do not have evidence handy at the moment. Report other types of identity theft, such as passport theft, to all entities that matter. These include:

  • Local law enforcement
  • Banks and credit card granters
  • Lenders
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Businesses you have existing financial relationships with

Simply inform businesses that your information was compromised, and come up with a solution to the problem before it becomes a larger problem.

Seek Legal Counsel When Things Get Out of Hand

Often, it is difficult to detect identity theft until damage has already been done. It is important to consult with an expert. Other entities might need to know about the theft, and a variety of evidence might need to be presented to clear your name. It is not hopeless to get your identity back. However, it is typically costly and time consuming.

Plan for the Future and Learn From Past Mistakes

Identity theft can happen anywhere. You cannot reasonably expect to never make a mistake or fall victim to a random crime. However, you can learn more about how pieces of identifying information work. You have chips in all cards, passports, and state-issued identification cards (driver’s licenses, ID cards). Criminals have gotten smart. They know that they can get away with theft more readily if they do not physically take your wallet. Invest in a card to scramble the signals that the chips in your existing cards give off. A few other easy ways to protect your identity include the following:

  • Be cognizant about who you give your credit card information and social security number to.
  • Do not send personal information via email or text message.
  • Watch out for scams in which criminals ask for sensitive information over the phone under the guise of a service provider or a bank.

Avoid Hassle and Costs: Mitigate Chances of Identity Theft Today

It is unreasonable to never bring your wallet in a crowded place or never carry your ID with you. However, you can take a few easy measures to prevent identity theft. If you do fall victim to identity theft, be proactive. The problem will almost never solve itself. Address the issue, and come up with a plan to protect yourself for the future.