Identity theft is more common than most people might realize. It’s a crime that is on the rise online, and it’s important to keep it in mind when using online services since it can pose huge risks to you and your financial situation. Although identity theft is on the rise, data shows that a large percentage of US citizens still aren’t taking it seriously enough. Around half of US adults don’t believe that they’d ever be targeted, according to a survey by Experian.
How Identity Theft Could Harm You
Your data could be used by an identity thief to open new credit accounts, apply for unsecured loans, and more. This could put your credit score in jeopardy, harming your future applications for credit yourself and often leading to a lengthy process in which you will have to prove that you did not make the fraudulent applications. Even if you have poor credit, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are not going to be targeted. Hackers could get hold of, and do a lot of damage with, information such as your Social Security number or banking details.
Avoiding Identity Theft
There are several things to do to avoid being a target of identity theft online. One of the main ways is to only use sites that take security seriously, such as reputable and secure online casinos. It’s also important to ensure that you double-check any links you click on before visiting, keep anti-virus and security software updated, and watch out for phishing messages.
Reporting Identity Theft
If you believe that your identity has been stolen, the first thing that you should do is report it to the authorities along with your bank and credit card providers. You should also place a fraud alert on your credit report, which typically last for around ninety days. You can do this through any of the credit agencies and it will be shared with the others. This will flag any potential creditors or lenders to contact you before a new account is opened so that you can verify if you have applied yourself or if it’s fraud.
Reporting to the FTC
You can also report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This will document the theft and extend the fraud alert for seven years, making it easier to prove that you have been the victim of this crime. The FTC will take you through each step of making your report and help you build an individual plan for responding to the situation that will ultimately help you get back to normal.
Check Your Credit Report
Review your credit report to see if anything you don’t recognize has appeared on it. You can get a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus online, where you can easily view all lines of credit in your name and check for recent applications. If you notice anything that you believe is fraud, you can contact the credit bureaus to have it removed.
Identity theft is on the rise – knowing how to avoid it and what to do if it happens to you is important for protecting your financial situation.