reduce risk of identity theft Archives | Ovation Credit Repair Services

What Do I Do If My Identity Is Stolen?

By | Credit Repair, Fraud Protection, Your Credit

In the realm of science fiction and as a device in slapstick comedy, identity swaps often lead to hilarious adventures and comical misunderstandings. The humor in mistaken identity is a common plot element, even appearing in the works of Shakespeare. In the modern world of credit cards and digital money, however, the loss of or change in your identity is nothing to laugh about.

A stolen identity can encompass much more than just a stolen credit card. Identity theft includes personal information such as your name, address, and social security number, which allows another individual to make purchases or open accounts in your name. This is a serious crime, and it should be reported as soon as possible (even if it is a relative).

The first thing to do is to call the police, and file a report. Next, place fraud alerts on your credit reports by notifying all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each of these bureaus will request a copy of the police report; you should in turn request a copy of your credit report. Review your credit reports thoroughly, because it is important to identify which actions are your own and which are those of an imposter. By logging all your recent activity, you can successfully track what has been stolen from you. The credit bureaus can put a lock on your account, to prevent any further credit from being issued.

The next step is to close or change all of your accounts, in order to effectively lock out the individual who may be responsible. Contact each of your credit card companies, your bank and other lenders to let them know about the situation. This helps to ensure that the thief can no longer use your identity.  The last step is to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC employs nationwide resources to track down those who commit identify theft and works to help those who are victims of this callous crime.

Identity theft can effectively ruin your credit, and although the issue can be resolved, it is certainly not a pleasant experience. Take measures to protect yourself against identity theft by paying close attention to your credit affairs. If you are getting phone calls from debtors about items you never purchased or offers for credit cards that you never applied for, it might be a sign that someone has hacked into your life. Do not hesitate to investigate your credit, if you feel something is awry. Legally, credit bureaus are required to provide one free credit report per year upon request. Additionally, the credit bureaus also have to give you a free report if you feel you are a victim of identity theft. When it comes to identity theft, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What To Shred – Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft

By | Ask a Credit Expert, Credit Cards, Credit Scores, Fraud Protection

Eleven million people a year and 54 billion dollars. That’s the hit that identity theft puts on us. And it’s mostly avoidable. How? Well, you can toss your personal and financial information in the trash and hope no one digs through it, or you can shred. But why take the chance? Thieves think nothing of rummaging through trash looking for valuable information. When they find yours, they’ll have everything they need to live their life on your dime. Shred and you cut them out of the picture. And you stay out of that statistic.

It only takes a few minutes a day to sort your discards. Set aside the documentation you should not shred such as recent tax information, and shred the items that contain potentially harmful information. Not sure what they are? It’s a fairly short list. Here’s ours.

Old Tax Returns. They contain your name, address, social security number, income, and your children’s names and social security numbers. The kids may not be eighteen yet, but people can still try and get credit in their name. Just be sure that you keep the most recent seven returns though, in case you get audited.

Credit card offers. You don’t want to leave them lying around and you don’t want to throw them in the trash. You never know when someone might see them and decide “Oh, I’m going to go get a credit card and they’re not going to know.” You will, when it’s too late.

Pay stubs. They have your name, social security number, address, salary and deduction information, and all kinds of employer information on it. So you definitely want to shred pay stubs.

Convenience checks. Let’s say you receive some from your credit card company, rip them in half and threw them in the trash. Then someone comes along, sees them, tapes them back together, fills them out, and sends them in. Yes, they could be honored even after being torn in half. You’ve just paid off their credit cards and added to yours.

Bank statements. They have your account number, name, address, and account balances on them. Even better than shredding is to go paperless with on-line banking.

Canceled checks. A lot of people think, “Oh, I wrote void on it, no big deal.” But it still has your routing and account number on it.

Canceled credit cards. Always shred a canceled debit or a credit card that so that no one can get the number. It’s a part of your credit history that could help a thief “prove” they’re you.

Outdated IDs. Items such as old college IDs, security badges, employee name tags, and photo IDs could be of value to a thief. There might be information on them that ends up on a fake ID. Shred them.

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