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Recognize Identity Theft
Identity theft can destroy your credit, your ability to obtain credit loans, student loans, or a mortgage, your ability to buy, sell or rent a home, your ability to enter or leave the United States, or your ability to begin utility services. Someone impersonating you can report their wages with your social security number. This may trigger a tax audit from the Internal Revenue Service and generate tax penalties in your federal tax return from wages you did not know about. If the impersonator receives too many traffic violations, fails to appear in court, or commits a crime, an arrest warrant can be issued in your name and you could be arrested for a crime you know nothing about. Of course, these things do not happen to everyone. They may never happen to you. But, should these things happen, the effects could be devastating.
In our everyday lives, we try to prevent bad things from happening. We try hard to reduce the risks we take with our health and personal safety. We should also reduce our risks for identity theft. Just as with everyday activities, there is no guarantee of 100% safety. Consumers do not have control when companies store their personal information and preferences in databases. When security is not in your control and can be compromised, consumers can (and need to) monitor credit reports extremely carefully and hope we can identify any problem as it begins.
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Indications of Identity Theft
You may be a victim of identity theft if you are:
- receiving debt collection calls for another person
- being contacted by debt collectors and businesses about goods or services you did not purchase or apply for
- receiving credit cards you did not apply for
- being offered less favorable credit terms for no apparent reason
- being denied credit for a reason that just does not make sense
- being requested to confirm a new account application in the form of a late monthly statement, a phone call or letter.