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Identity theft happens when someone takes and uses your personal information without permission. Identity theft can damage your finances, credit history and reputation.

How Thieves Get Your Information

  • Hack computer systems then sell personal information
  • Steal information from trash or from a business
  • Trick you into revealing information
  • Take your wallet or purse
  • Pretend to offer a job, loan, or apartment to get your information

Plus, thieves are always finding new ways to get to your personal information.

Warning Signs to Watch For

  • Mistakes on accounts or on Explanation of Medical Benefits
  • Regular bills go missing
  • Calls from debt collectors about a debt that isn't yours
  • Notices from the IRS about accounts in your minor child's name

How to Reduce Your Risk

  • Check your credit often
  • Read bank, credit, and account statements, as well as Explanations of Medical Benefits
  • Respond quickly to IRS notices
  • Protect personal information and shred documents
  • Beware of online impersonators
  • Protect your computer with strong passwords, encryptions, firewalls, antivirus, and anti-spyware

What to Do if You're a Victim of Identity Theft

  • Act immediately by placing an initial fraud alert on your credit report
  • Order your credit reports
  • File a complaint with the FTC, then take the FTC affidavit to your local police station to file an official identity theft report