When someone gains access to your personal information they can use it to attempt a type of crime called identity theft or identity fraud. Identity theft can cost you money, time, damage to your credit scores and in a worst case scenario, police arrest under a case of mistaken identity. This can include opening credit card accounts, get medical treatment, filing for tax refunds, making purchases or committing fraud in your name. You can be held liable for these things until you prove these were services you did not authorize.
Watch for the warning signs that someone is using your information. This could be things like:
If you see these warning signs, act quickly to help limit the damage. Here is what you can do:
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report to review for suspicious activity. Contact one of the three credit bureaus, that company must alert the other two.
2. Call the companies where you know fraud has occurred.
3. Obtain and review your credit report for unauthorized account activity
4. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
5. File a report with the local police department. Bring the following:
Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report.
6. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website to start a recovery plan