Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone gains access to another person’s personal information and uses it for their own personal gain. Most identity theft crimes are financially motivated so any information that could potentially allow access to your finances is vulnerable. This includes your social security number, bank account number, credit card information, your telephone number and even your address. Identity theft can be as simple as someone using your credit card to make purchases or as extreme as assuming your identity completely.

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Are there different forms of identity theft?

Financially motivated identity theft, where a person uses your personal information to make purchases, deplete your bank account or obtain loans, is the most common form of identity theft, but it’s not the only kind. Additional examples of identity theft include: – Medical identity theft. This is when a person uses your information to obtain medical procedures and prescription medication as well as file insurance claims. – Criminal identity theft. In this case, criminals provide your identifying information when caught, thereby creating a false criminal record under your name. – Child identity theft. This occurs when someone uses the information of a minor to open different lines of credit. Because children do not have a credit history, child identity theft might go unnoticed until the victim attempts to sign up for their first credit card.

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How does Identity Theft affect me?

The impact of identity theft on the victim will depend on the type of personal information obtained and the duration of the crime. It can be as simple as a single transaction on your credit card before you were alerted or as severe as having your credit and reputation completely destroyed, which may take years to rectify. The Department of Justice, on their website, cites an example of one of the more extreme cases of identity theft in which the criminal amassed $100,000 in credit card debt, purchased multiple homes after obtaining loans and ultimately filed bankruptcy under the name of the victim. It took the victim four years to repair his credit history. In the case of medical identity theft, having your medical history intertwined with that of a stranger posing as you can lead to false diagnoses, incorrect courses of treatment and high medical bills.

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How can I tell if my Identity has been stolen?

If you see suspicious transactions on your credit card or bank statements, receive billing or collection notices in the mail regarding credit you did not apply for or see a drastic drop in your credit score, you may be a victim of identity theft. Additionally, obtain a copy of your credit report, which is updated monthly, and check for any suspicious activity.

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What can I do if my identity has been stolen?

There are several steps that must be taken when you’re a victim of identity theft. The first is to contact one of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and request a fraud alert and credit freeze be placed on your account. You should also update your contact information. This step provides you with access to a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus. The next step is to file an identity theft report. First, victims must file a complaint with the FTC, which can be done at ftc.gov/complaint, to create an identity theft affidavit. With this document in hand, you must then file a police report to create an identity theft report. Once these initial steps are taken, the process becomes more arduous and stressful, as it involves contacting banks and other financial institutions to dispute fraudulent charges.

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How do you get a copy of my credit report?

The rights of identity theft victims are as follows: – You have the right to issue a fraud alert for your credit report, which will be in effect for 90 days. – You’re granted access to a free credit report once a fraud alert has been issued. – You can file an identity theft report with the FTC and your local police department. – Once an identity theft report has been created, you can extend the fraud alert to last seven years. – You can block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report. – You have the right to obtain the information the thief used to create false accounts under your name. – You have the right to dispute fraudulent transactions and prevent banks and debt collectors from going after you for any fraudulent debt.

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How do I protect myself against identity theft?

The best way to protect yourself is to remain vigilant. Review your bank and credit card statements every month to check for fraudulent charges. You’re also entitled to one free credit report a year. Do not provide sensitive data such as your social security number to anyone unless it’s deemed absolutely necessary and don’t use public computers or public wireless networks to complete online transactions that include personal data. Be aware of data breaches and change usernames and passwords anytime there’s even a slight risk of your information being compromised.

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Should I invest in identity theft protection services?

Identity theft protection services offer the greatest piece of mind in a digital world. While you can remain vigilant and practice safe habits when it comes to your personal data, it never hurts to have someone else constantly reviewing your credit report and financial activity for signs of fraudulent activity. In the event your identity is stolen, the company will provide you with the help needed as you go through the steps of fighting the theft, from issuing a fraud alert to clearing fraudulent transactions from your credit report. It’s a piece of mind many consider to be worth the investment.

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What is identity theft liability insurance?

Identity theft liability insurance is a policy that takes into account that you may be left liable for certain charges on credit cards or checks that you did not initiate. In most cases, someone steals your credit card or card number and then starts making purchases. In serious cases, your basic identity information is stolen- and from that stolen information, the identity thief is able to create enough new id cards and credit cards to start running a parallel life as you. In either instance, after paying a small deductible in most cases, Identity Theft Liability Insurance will cover credit card debt and identity destruction that is not covered by your bank and standard insurance companies.

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How do I get law enforcement involved if my identity has been stolen?

As stated already, when you’re a victim of identity theft, you have the right to file a police report. Before contacting your local police department, it’s import to first file a complaint with the FTC, which can be done at ftc.gov/complaints. This report, together with a police report, creates an identity theft report, which you’ll use to dispute all the fraudulent transactions on your credit report.

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When you travel, what is the best way to avoid identity theft related to your credit cards?

It may seem like the best way to avoid problems with your credit card is to leave it at home and bring a pre-paid card instead that can be tied to a different address and even identity if you are working for a company or corporation… That is a good way, but remember that stopping your mail or arranging to have it forwarded to a secure location while you are gone is also an excellent way of stopping people from trying to start identity theft from your home location. Another solid tip is to use an identity theft protection program through a private provider to limit the number of free credit card solicitations that you receive in the mail so that thieves will not be tempted to look at your mail.

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What is court document scanning?

Court document scanning is a practice that some companies that provide identity theft protection offer as a service. Their staff actively scans documentation from courthouses throughout the country in order to find people that may be using your identity by using your name. If there is a match, they notify you and act on your behalf.

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Should I opt for fraud monitoring?

Fraud monitoring allows your identity theft provider to not only look at the courts, but at rogue sites where illegal credit card transactions are taking place. If they locate someone using your identity in this type of environment, they will normally contact you and then contact the credit bureau on your behalf. The key here for you is to understand where you are in your credit card usage, renewal, and approval process for different lines of credit because once they contact the credit bureau, they will put a credit fraud warning on your account. This warning immediately changes the process by which you are approved for a new credit card. Instead of an automated process, for the next ninety days, the credit bureau will contact you by phone every time there is a new credit card application so that they will be able to verify that it is you that is opening the credit card account.

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What can be done about someone trying to use social engineering to gain credit card information?

You probably have been instructed at work to avoid responding to e-mail that asks you to provide any personal information about yourself. This is also a good idea at home. If you do not want people to call you in the United States to get information for their sales efforts, you can add yourself to the national ‘do not call’ list. If someone violates that right of yours by calling you and trying to get information, you can report the violation on the US government donotcall.gov website.

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What is stolen wallet assistance?

Stolen wallet assistance is a service provided by identity theft protection services that provides staff to step in and cancel your credit cards with each bank or lending institution that you have so that you can replace them. They normally also have the ability to help you navigate replacing your personal identification.

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Are resolution services different from monitoring services?

Yes. If your company offers resolution services, it means that they will help you with any problems related to having a stolen identity. They will contact the right people, stay in touch with you, and even offer legal assistance to ensure that your reputation and your credit is protected. Monitoring services are usually automated to check for anomalies or discrepancies in how your credit overview looks.

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What are the options for those wishing to add their family to their protection?

Most providers offer a family plan at a reasonable price. That means that for every family member that has a credit card or is active in purchasing using your credit, a set of protections services that are similar to what you have can be added for them as well.

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What are the merits of looking for a provider that offers medical record protection?

The primary reason that there is medical record protection is that in many states there is no protection at the hospital level against staff or other personnel looking at your records. This translates to outside contractors who do medical transcriptions on behalf of the medical community. If someone were to get your records and insurance information, they could start adding charges on your account without you knowing about it if they are savvy enough. By getting coverage, you will ensure that your provider is on top of any charges to your account before it becomes a problem.

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Some of the news coverage for identity theft protection says it isn’t necessary. But my bank and all the people who store my money say it is a good idea. Who is right?

It’s probable that you have a feel for the answer to your question already. If your financial institution and other financial planning and advising companies are telling you that it is a good idea, it is a good idea from the viewpoint of a person working in financial services. If you look at the statistics, it makes sense to find a identity theft provider and use them. The chances that you will have an insurmountable problem may not be large, but one problem can destroy your finances.

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