More than 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014 alone.
85% of Americans have taken steps to prevent identity theft, such as shredding important documents, checking their credit reports, and changing their passwords.
BEWARE OF ATM SKIMMING
If you use an ATM or other card reader, you may become a victim of identity theft. Thieves have been using counterfeit card readers in tandem with hidden cameras to steal the information on ATM cards for several years. Once you slide your card into the reader and enter your PIN, the thief has enough information to make another card. Reduce your risk by avoiding non-bank ATMs and monitoring your accounts for unauthorized activity.
MEDICAL IDENTITY THEFT IS ON THE RISE
More than 2 million Americans are victims of medical identity theft each year. This type of theft costs the average victim $22,346. Unfortunately, a victim may not realize it’s happened until they get a bill for a medical service they didn’t receive or collection notices for bills they know nothing about.
Prevent medical identity theft:
- Be wary of giving out personal information
- Keep paper copies of your insurance records and forms locked in a safe place
- Shred documents you want to throw away
- Remove or destroy the labels on prescription pill bottles before disposing of them
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE THE VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT
- Report it to your local police and ask them to issue a police report. Keep a copy to share with your creditors.
- Document everything, including phone calls to emails, pertaining to the incident.
- Contact the fraud department at one of the major credit bureaus–Equifax, TransUnion or Experian–to place a fraud alert on your file. One bureau will notify the other two of the flag on your credit.
- Review your credit report and look for unauthorized charges or new credit lines.
- Contact your creditors, financial institutions, utilities and services to let them know your identity has been stolen.
- Contact the IRS if you think your identify has been used on connection with tax violations.
- Contact the post office to see if anyone has submitted change of address forms on your behalf.