What Is Identity Theft and How Can You Protect Yourself From It?

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What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when someone fraudulently uses personal information that is not their own, typically for financial gain. This usually means someone accesses your name, bank account, credit cards, driver’s license, Social Security number, passwords, and other details about you without your permission. They then use that information to set up new credit cards, obtain funds from your accounts, steal your tax refund, and anything else they can get their hands on with the information they have. Identity theft can result in financial loss, credit damage, and even emotional distress.

Recognizing identity theft

It’s important to stay alert and aware of your private information at all times. This way, if you are the victim of identity theft, you can catch it early on to minimize the damage.

Here’s a list of warning signs that you may have had your identity stolen:

  • You start receiving calls from debt collectors for accounts you don’t recognize
  • You notice unusual charges on your credit card and bank statements
  • You notice withdrawals from your bank account that you haven’t made
  • You receive a notice from a business or institution that your information was compromised in a data breach
  • Anything else that is not normal or makes you feel vulnerable to harm

How to handle identity theft

If you fear or have evidence that your identity has been stolen, there are a few steps you can take to regain control of your information:

  • Report to the Federal Trade Commission that you have suffered from identity theft. Go to https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to file a report and receive a recovery plan.
  • Notify creditors or banks to shut down or freeze your credit cards and bank accounts.
  • File a police report.
  • Contact a credit reporting agency to have a fraud alert placed on your credit. You can use an identity theft report to have fraudulent information taken off of your credit reports.
  • Change all of your account passwords.
  • Contact the Social Security fraud hotline to notify them.
  • Consider getting a new driver’s license number.
  • Contact utilities and telephone companies in the event that an identity thief tries to open new accounts in your name.

Your police report and identity theft complain to the FTC will be your identity theft report. This will be crucial in fixing damages done to your bank accounts and credit. Proving you are the victim of identity theft means creditors, banks, and credit reporting agencies will be able to work with you much more easily in clearing fraudulent activity.

The key is to act fast – as soon as you know you’re a victim, get to work.

How to protect yourself from identity theft

Even if you haven’t been the victim of a stolen identity, it’s still important to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. There’s no such thing as being too safe!

  • Don’t use the same password for all of your accounts, and make sure all of your accounts are password protected.
  • Stay away from shady websites, emails, and businesses.
  • Never give out your personal information unless you absolutely trust the source and their legitimacy.
  • Regularly monitor your bank account and credit card activity as well as your credit reports to catch anything out of the ordinary.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security number with you.
  • Consider a credit monitoring service.

Identity theft, although uncommon (affecting around 7% of Americans aged 16 and older), is still a threat to be concerned about. Protecting your identity means protecting your future. Taking the right steps now to not only protect yourself but also understand the possibility and red flags for identity fraud means you might be saving yourself from a lot of trouble should anyone attempt to steal your identity. It’s worth noting that Net Pay Advance is trustworthy and on your side – and we can prove it. Take a look at our Security Center, and always give us a call if you ever have any questions or concerns.

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