With more and more information stored online, more bad guys are just a password away from our personal data. As hackers have stolen financial information from large corporations like Equifax, Yahoo and even the Internal Revenue Service, identity theft is on the rise.
"Identity theft can trash your credit score because there's the risk that somebody takes your name, your Social Security number, and your solid credit rating, goes out, applies for a bunch of credit, and then doesn't repay any of it," cautions Bankrate.com Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride. "That can really just destroy what otherwise had been years of hard work on your part to build a solid credit rating."
Instead of worrying, follow these common-sense guidelines to minimize your exposure to identity theft.
Don't share personal details, such as passwords and Social Security numbers, in response to emails claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, retailers, or your bank. Once your information has been released onto the secondary market, you will be a more frequent target of telephone, mail, and email scams.
If your information was confirmed as stolen, check all accounts immediately; then cancel your cards and replace them. You can request that the credit card company contact you by phone before new accounts are opened in your name. "MoneyTips actually has a credit monitoring service, so that way you can see if someone has opened up a new card under your name very quickly," explains Best-selling Author and Financial Educator Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche. "Because the sooner you could tell your bank, hey, something is not right, the more likely they are to believe you and do something about it."
If your account has already been misused, contact the police along with taking the above steps (canceling cards, etc.) and dispute the charges with your credit card companies. Be sure to get a copy of the police report for reference. Place a fraud alert at one of the three credit bureaus, and get a free copy of your credit report within minutes using Credit Manager by MoneyTips. The Federal Trade Commission offers more information at IdentityTheft.gov and can help you formulate a recovery plan.
Remember, whether you use a credit-monitoring service or not, the ultimate responsibility for protecting your information lies with you. If you would like to prevent identity theft, check out our credit monitoring service.
Originally Posted at: https://www.moneytips.com/identity-theft-101
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