Resolving Identity Theft

 Being a victim of identity theft comes as a shock to most, especially if you’re also dealing with a bankruptcy. You don’t expect to be victimized in such a way, and when it happens, the first question that comes to mind is, what do I do now? We will speak about what you should do not only to prevent identity theft, but how to deal with it if it happens. 


What is Identity Theft?

 Identity theft can happen in many different ways. It is illegal for anyone to use another’s social security number, bank account, credit card, or PINs for personal gain. It doesn’t matter how they may have come across the information such as digging through trash, stealing a purse or wallet, or hacking into your computer system. This is one of the nation’s fastest growing crimes. 

 In response to these crimes, most states have identity theft laws that cover various types of fraud involving a person’s finances. In 1998 the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrent Act made identity theft a federal crime. This law states that it is illegal to use another person’s identity or identification with the intent to commit a crime. In 2004 the Theft Penalty Enhancement Act passed, which made sentences increase. It also established that several federal government agencies such as the FBI, Secret Service, and the Federal Trade Commission start an investigation in these cases, especially if the identity theft was related to an act of terrorism. 


Preventing Identity Theft

 If you don’t pay close attention to your credit report, it is possible that you may not even be aware that you have been victimized. One of the best ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim is to shred any documents that have personal information on them. Don’t carry your social security card on you, and keep your computer software and virus protection up to date. Most people pick simple or easy to predict passwords. Take the time to establish complex passwords with capitals, numbers, and special characters. Be aware of your surroundings if you are entering your debit card PIN; make sure no one is watching you or looking over your shoulder. You could do all of these things and still have your information stolen if a large bank or organization were to get hacked. The best thing you can do overall is keep an eye on your credit report for any accounts opened without your knowledge.  


What do I do if I’m a Victim?

 If you discover that you have become a victim of identity theft, there are several steps that you should take. First, contact the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to initiate a fraud alert on your reports. The next step is to file a report with your local police department, as well as the Federal Trade Commission. If you know specifics on a bank or institution that has been affected, you should contact them directly.

 If you need help with your finances or have been a victim of identity theft. I may be able to help. If your finances have become unbearable and you are considering bankruptcy, let me answer your questions and help you make a plan to get back on financial track.