Fighting Identity Theft: A Guide

According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, more than 11 million people find themselves victims of identity theft each year. Identity thieves costs businesses billions of dollars, and targeted individuals often lose thousands of dollars as predators use stolen information to open credit cards, buy various items, seek medical treatment, and commit greater crimes. These thieves do more than just steal credit card numbers and rack up charges; they can steal your name and your social security number too. Once an identity thief gets ahold of and uses your information, you could quickly find yourself in a huge personal, financial, and legal mess. Read on for advice on how to protect yourself from would-be identity thieves.


Understanding Identity Theft

The first step in preventing identity theft is understanding what it is and how it happens. This includes learning about the different types of identity theft and how identity thieves can use the information they obtain. It also includes knowing the traits of an identity thief and understanding that even people you are close to can steal your identity.

13 Tips Everyone Should Know about Identity Theft – These simple tips focus on identity theft and common scams involving the IRS.

Scams and Identify Theft – The Federal Trade Commission provides information about different types of scams and identity thefts to watch out for.

Missouri Attorney General: Identity Theft – The Missouri Attorney General’s office provides a comprehensive overview of identity theft, including prevention techniques.

Identity Theft FAQs – Discover some of the basics of identity theft and go through the checklist to see how safe you are.

Carnegie Mellon University: Identity Theft – This presentation covers what identity theft is, how it happens and how to protect your identity.

Expanding Services to Reach Victims of Identity Theft and Financial Fraud – This e-publication covers what identity theft is, the rights that identity victims have and resources designed to help those who have become victims of identity theft.

Understanding Identity Theft – PayPal sees numerous cases of identity theft each year and created this guide to help its customers understand the risks.


Preventing Identity Theft

Preventing identity theft involves keeping your personal information safe and out of the hands of potential identity thieves. Many of the steps designed to prevent identity theft do not require you to spend any money, nor do they take much time to complete. Identity thieves are found in many different places and it can be costly to assume that your sensitive information is safe or that you will never become a victim of identity theft.

Prevent and Report Identity Theft – offers simple tips to help prevent your identity from being stolen, as well as an opportunity to report infractions.

When a Criminal’s Cover is Your Identity – Learn how to prevent someone from using your name and social security number to commit crimes.

Preventing Identity Theft: a Guide for Consumers – This guide covers how to protect your information and shares common scams and other signs that identity thieves are poised to steal your information.

Do You Need Identity Theft Protection? – Determine if you can prevent the problems that result from identity theft by getting identity theft protection.

DCA Initiatives: Identity Theft Prevention – The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs offers advice to help individuals and businesses prevent identity theft.

Leave Me Alone: Your Privacy Online and Offline – Learn how to keep your private information out of the hands of identity thieves.


Credit Monitoring Resources

Staying on top of your credit report and other financial accounts is one of the keys to preventing identity theft. Knowing the current status of your credit also helps you catch any issues before they escalate. If you are diligent about this awareness, but for some individuals it may pay to enlist the help of a credit monitoring service. These are designed to alert consumers whenever suspicious activity appears on their credit reports.

Monitoring Your Credit Score and Credit Report – The Wall Street Journal covers what goes into a credit report and provides tips to help you monitor yours.

Is Credit Monitoring a Waste? – Determine if credit monitoring services are right for you and learn what to look for in a credit monitoring service to make sure you do not become a victim of a scam.

4 Reasons to Forgo Credit Monitoring Sources – Smart Money offers advice to help determine if credit monitoring services are worth the money. – Monitor your own credit with a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

Best Credit Monitoring Services – Learn which credit monitoring services are the best, and what specific services they offer.


Dealing with Identity Theft

Identity thieves are slick. Even if you take measures to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft, it could still happen. Should identity theft happen to you, it helps to know where to turn. This includes knowing who to notify and the steps to take to get your name cleared. It also includes knowing what your rights are so that you can avoid paying debts amassed under fraudulent means, and to prevent punishment from crimes and other actions done in your name.

FTC: Statement of Rights for Identity Theft Victims – Know your rights so you do not end up paying a high financial or emotional toll if you find yourself a victim of identity theft.

ID Theft and Fraud Victim Resource Booklet – Use this resource to make sure you take the right steps to clear your name should you become a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Just For You: Identity Theft Victim – Follow these steps if you suspect you have become a victim of identity theft.

Identity Theft Resource Center: Victim Resources – Find information on handling identity theft, including letter templates and numbers of organizations who can help.

Handling a Crime Committed by Someone You Know – A large number of identity theft cases are committed by someone the victim knows – this site can help you navigate these challenges.