When identity theft has occurred, a victim must isolate the relevant symptoms. Identity theft can take many forms, so it helps to identify specific symptoms in each case.
If you have been the victim of identity theft, important questions to consider include:
- Did you receive a letter from your state government claiming you filed for unemployment insurance when you actually did not?
- A fraudulent tax return associated with your Social Security Number has been filed in the hopes of securing a tax refund.
- Have there been charges in your bank or credit card accounts that can’t be attributed to any verified purchases?
- Has communication with your bank or other institutions regarding credit information been interrupted or stopped all together?
These are all symptoms of identity theft. Though these experiences can leave you feeling powerless and daunted, there are effective steps to mitigating the risk of financial loss and identity fraud that are often associated with identity theft.
- Go to ftc.gov and file an identity theft report.
- Contact, by phone or email, all three credit bureaus to have them place credit fraud alerts, credit freezes (aka ‘security freeze’), and opt outs from pre-screened credit offers.
They can be reached at:
- Call the local police department and ask them how they handle identity theft. Provide the details and symptoms you are experiencing.
- Contact the IRS to ensure your Social Security Number has not been used in the employment or benefits scheme of a bad actor. The IRS Identity Protection Special Unit can be reached at:
- Change your passwords. Better yet, enroll in a Password Manager to securely generate, store and manage your passwords