Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used by another person. In most cases, identity theft is done for financial gain. Research shows that in 2017 more than 15.4 million Americans were victims of this crime, losing a combined $16 billion dollars. And those numbers are only going up! In fact, the more adapted we become to using technology and the internet, especially for purchases, the more likely it is that we become victims of this crime. Thieves use your stolen information to make their own purchases, open credit accounts, and receive medical services. This leaves most victims with ruined credit scores and mounting bills. There are several types of identity theft, each with its own hazards.
Most times, this particular crime can go unnoticed for relatively long periods of time. For instance, if you are a victim of medical ID theft, you may not realize it until medical bills start arriving for services that you never used. Even more troublesome is child ID theft, which can go unnoticed until the child becomes an adult, and the damage has already been done to their credit. Other common types of theft of your identity include the following:
Luckily, there are ways for you to protect yourself from ID theft, and even to recover from an attack. Credit Advisors Council will help you to learn how to prevent, protect your identity and recover from your identity being stolen. Our Oklahoma City credit counselors will help you to learn how and when to check your credit score, setup fraud alert tools, identify and avoid scams, and remove false charges from your credit report in the event that you have already experienced identity theft. Our staff is experienced in consumer credit, allowing us to be better able to help you guard against identity theft or repair your credit score.
Most people know to check their credit card statements for charges that they didn’t make. However, this will only ever catch a thief who is using a credit account that you already know exists. In many cases, a thief will instead open new accounts in your name, in order to make charges that you might not be made aware of until well after the card has been maxed out. But any new accounts that have been opened in your name will appear on your credit history report. By making sure that you regularly check your credit report, you can easily catch any inconsistencies and fraudulent charges that appear on your report and take the appropriate action to reconcile them. With the continued rise of ID theft and fraud cases across the country, it is more important than ever that consumers learn how to protect their credit reports and take action against identity thieves.
In today’s day and age, it can be hard to check your credit on a regular basis. Whether you’re just always busy, or you don’t know enough to properly monitor your credit report for fraudulent activity, our Oklahoma City credit agency can help you set up credit monitoring services to help you regularly watch your credit. Such services will even alert you if there is a problem with your credit report. For instance, if a new account is opened in your name, your credit monitoring service will immediately alert you. While you can choose to pay for a credit monitoring service, you can also choose to monitor your credit on your own. This, however, can be limited to so many credit reports over the course of a year, without the ability to check your overall credit score in the bargain. Credit monitoring services will offer you regular credit reports and credit score monitoring so that you can get the best idea of where your credit stands and any possible fraudulent accounts.
IRS or tax identity theft, occurs when someone steals your social security number for the purpose of filing tax returns with the state or federal government. In most cases, the victim is unaware that their SSN has been stolen until they try to file their own taxes and are informed that a return has already been filed under that social security number, or if they are contacted by the IRS on the grounds of fraudulent activity. There are multiple warnings signs to tax ID theft, which our Oklahoma City credit advisors can help you to properly identify. Start by securing your social security number and monitoring your credit score.
There are numerous credit card scams that you could fall victim to, in addition to IRS identity theft. And your computer is at the heart of many of these ID theft schemes. If your computer is not properly protected, you could be at risk to be hacked, have your security breached and your information stolen. Malware and spyware can embed themselves in an unsecure computer, spying on users and stealing their personal information when they shop online. But your identity isn’t necessarily safe if you stop shopping online. For instance, there are machines and software that hackers can install on ATM machines and card processing units that copy a card’s information and credit ‘clones’. This is called skimming. Another way that criminals steal your identity is through social engineering. This is a very popular form of scamming in which scammers send emails posing as financial institutions asking for your credit card information or other personal info. And in extreme cases, some scammers will hack into company databases that contain consumer credit card information.
Consumer fraud is defined as any instance where an individual suffers a personal loss because of business practices that are unfair, false, misleading, and so on. Fraud itself is a form of deception. Thus, consumer fraud encompasses a wide range of crimes, including fake charities, cashing someone else’s Medicare or social security checks, healthcare fraud, and investment fraud. Identity theft is also a form of consumer fraud, and is the most reported form of such fraud.
Medical fraud occurs when someone files false or misleading information that causes them to receive additional payout from healthcare providers. Healthcare fraud or medical fraud can also be done by medical practitioners and providers. Some examples of medical fraud include billing for services not performed, waiving patient copays in order to overbill the insurance carrier, and falsifying a patient’s tests in order to justify more costly procedures such as surgeries that are otherwise unnecessary. Consumers can also commit medical fraud in the form of filing claims for services that were not provided or using someone else’s insurance card or information.
Internet fraud occurs when someone uses the internet to gain access to your personal information or otherwise scam you. Internet scams can include email fraud in which scammers try to gain access your bank information through human compassion. Phishing and spoofing, skimming, and data breach are all types of internet fraud. Fraudulent activity can also come in the form of malware, scareware, and ransomware; all forms of computer viruses and malicious software that can infect your computer and steal your personal information by monitoring your online activity.
If you have already become a victim of identity theft, there are steps that you can take to regain your good name. The first thing you should do when you become alerted of fraud is to lock down the breached or unauthorized account. In some cases this could be a bank account with unauthorized charges. In others, it could be a credit card account that you didn’t open. You should also sign up for a credit monitoring service that can help alert you to any future suspicious charges. A credit counseling service in Oklahoma City can help you to scan your bank statements and credit card history, and review your credit reports for suspicious accounts. You should also take steps to file a report with the local Oklahoma City police department or Oklahoma law enforcement. This way, proper measures can be taken to not only restore your identity, but to catch the thief responsible.
But even credit repair specialists can’t help you with every aspect of your identity theft recovery. Thankfully, Credit Advisors Council also has access to an experienced team of legal professionals, including identity theft attorneys. An ID theft attorney can help you to file an FTC identity theft report and contact the credit bureaus in order to have fraudulent charges removed from your credit report. As an added benefit, bill collectors and creditors are prohibited from contacting you directly so long as you retain an consumer protection lawyer. You will also learn what remedies and aids are available to you as a victim. Remember, the law firms that we work with are here to help you fight for your legal rights in any situation, and they have your best interests at heart.
|Identity theft||the taking of an individual’s personal information; generally for financial gain|
|Credit Check||a check run by either individuals or businesses in order to determine credit worthiness, which allows you to apply for loans and other credit accounts.|
|Credit Monitoring Services||Keeping track of your credit score can be done through an credit monitoring service. This is a great way to constantly check whether you have been a victim of fraud.|
|Identity Theft Protection||Companies that help individuals to monitor their personal information in order to protect against fraud and theft of their ID. Such services monitor the credit bureaus and protect your tri merge credit report, social security number, public records, and other information attached to your financial assets.|
|Credit Card Fraud||The theft of a person’s credit card information in order to make unauthorized purchases or charges.|
|IRS Identity Theft||The act of taking a person’s tax filing information, including social security number, in order to illegally file for government tax refunds.|
|Credit Protection||A service designed to help Oklahoma City consumers protect the information attached to their credit cards and credit report. This helps to stop prevent consumers from becoming a fraud victim.|
|Check Fraud||Check fraud can be someone issuing a check from a closed account or one without the correct amount of funds. Check fraud can also include someone stealing your personal banking information in order to write checks in your name.|
|Identity Theft Report||a report should be filed by someone who has been victimized by an ID thief. This report helps local Oklahoma City law enforcement and credit and loan officers to determine the extent of the crime, its impact on your credit and helps them identify fraudulent charges that need to be corrected.|
|Credit Card Scams||such scams are designed to steal banking or credit card information. These scams include phishing and skimming in which information is stolen from your computer by malicious software.|
|Reporting Fraud||The act of filing an identity theft report with your local Oklahoma City police department and your credit lenders in order to advise them on fraudulent charges and begin the process of repairing your credit.|
|Stolen Identity||When someone uses your personal information for gain, usually financial.|
|How To Report Identity Theft||Reporting starts with securing all of your accounts, reporting fraud to your creditors, and reporting the crime to the FTC along with your local Oklahoma City police department.|
|Security Alert||An alert that you receive, generally from a third party identity protection service, notifying you that there is suspicious or potentially fraudulent activity on your account. These alerts can help you to better monitor and secure your personal information.|
|File (Credit) Freeze||This stops creditors from gaining access to your credit file and even running credit enquiries. This will also prevent new credit accounts from being opened in your name.|
|Fraud Alert||Similar to a security alert, a fraud alert will notify credit reporting bureaus of fraudulent activity on your accounts.|
|Victim Statement||A written statement made by a victim to potential credit institutions, stating that no new accounts should be opened in your name due to the circumstances.|
|Data Breach||When unauthorized personnel gain access to your personal information through a security breach. This generally has to do with malicious software on your computer that can spy on your activities.|
|FTC||The FTC or Federal Trade Commision is an independent agency that enforces antitrust and consumer protection laws that help to prevent ID theft and reverse the effects.|
|Opt Out||requesting that you be removed from a pre approved credit offer list that could divulge your personal info to third party vendors.|
|Medical ID Theft||Using someone else’s health insurance information to gain access to medical benefits. This can be done both knowingly and unknowingly on the part of the insurance holder.|