Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s name, Social Security number or credit card number, without permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. As many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. You, or someone you know, may have experienced some form of identity theft.
What do identity thieves do?
They may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make, or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
Some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, but others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their name and credit record. Some identity theft victims may lose out on job opportunities, or may be denied a loan for education, housing or a vehicle because of negative information on their credit reports. They may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
It’s also important to note that identity thieves also target children. Adults can monitor their own credit reports every few months to see if someone has misused their information, but most parents and guardians don’t expect their child to have a credit file and rarely request a child’s credit report. A thief may use a child’s information for years before the crime is discovered, when the victim learns about the theft when applying for a loan, apartment or job.
Preventing identity theft
The most important things to do to help prevent identity theft are to protect your account information and keep an eye on your credit reports. It’s also important to take precautions when you are providing information online. Visit our pages on these topics for more information:
What to do if you’re a victim of identity theft
If you suspect or know you’re a victim of identity theft, contact us immediately. To start, you should place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports. Close accounts that you believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Finally, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Starion will assist you in all of these steps to make the process as simple and timely as possible.
Helpful websites & documents
- Starion Financial Identity Theft brochure [PDF]
- Identity Theft Resource Center
- Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) DEFEND website
- What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen (FTC publication) [PDF]
- Safeguarding Your Child’s Future (FTC publication) [PDF]
- 10 things You Should Know About Identity Theft (CreditCards.com)