Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information. Identity fraud happens when they use stolen personal information to commit fraudulent acts. ID theft and identity fraud are serious crimes that can wreak havoc on your finances and credit history. What’s worse is it can take considerable time and money to resolve. According to Insurance Information Institute’s 2017 Identity Fraud Study, $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. Over the last six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.
Though credit repair is our focus, we can’t talk about repairing your credit without addressing ID theft and fraud, as the two go hand-in-hand. Because if you are a victim of ID theft or fraud, it can devastate your credit score. The following articles will help you protect yourself from ID theft and fraud, and walk you through the credit repair process if it happens to you or a family member.
Facts About Identity Theft
11 Ways a Thief Can Steal Your Identity — Yes, there really are that many ways ID theft can be committed against you. Thieves know all of them. Do you?
Identity Theft Statistics — Doubt it can happen to you (or surely won’t happen again)? These numbers should change your mind. See recent stats on identity theft and identity fraud.
What is Phishing? — This common type of cyber scam is the reason you have to keep an eye out for suspicious-looking emails. To avoid becoming a victim of cyber phishing, get the facts about what phishing scammers want from you and how to prevent them from getting it.
Types of Identity Theft
Debit Card Data Theft at ATMs — Of all the places you use your debit card, your bank’s ATM probably feels pretty low-risk. But whether it belongs to your bank or not, you can never get too comfortable using ATMs. Get the facts about debit card data theft at ATMs and how to protect yourself.
Medical Identity Theft — There’s more at stake than your finances or your credit. Medical identity theft can mean wrong information in your medical records. With this much at stake, get the facts about how to protect yourself from this especially dangerous type of ID theft.
Child Identity Theft — While they may not have bank accounts or credit cards, kids have names and social security numbers that identity thieves can use for all sorts of fraudulent activities. Learn how to protect your family.
Identity Theft and Fraud Among Family Members — All identity theft hurts, but family identity theft and fraud probably hurts the most. And surprisingly, it’s an all-too-common occurrence. Take these steps to protect your credit if a family member steals your identity or commits fraud against you.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Fraud
Things You Can Do Yourself
Protect Your Credit From Identity Theft — As prevalent as identity theft and fraud is, it’s tempting to throw up your hands resigned to the fact it’s going to happen to you no matter what you do. But while there are no guaranteed means of prevention, you can drastically minimize risk. Learn how to protect your identity and your credit from thieves.
Shred These Documents — As much as we rely on electronic documents these days, we still have plenty of paper lying around with personal information on it. Don’t take it for granted. Are you shredding these 21 types of sensitive documents?
Pick Strong Passwords — We need passwords for so many things these days that it’s tempting to create an easy one that you can use for everything. But that’s exactly what hackers are hoping for. Take the time to create strong passwords.
Use a Password Manager — Don’t want to spend time or energy creating a unique password for every one of your online accounts? Let a password manager do it for you.
Avoid Sharing This Information on Social Media — We share so much on social media these days that it’s easy to slip up and share too much. It can be a recipe for disaster in more ways than one, ID theft among them. Find out what to avoid.
Follow These Tips When Shopping Online — The convenience of using credit cards to shop online comes at a cost — the risk of identity thieves getting a hold of your credit card information. Protect yourself as best as you can by following these guidelines.
Shield Your Online Activity and Protect Your Identity — Take your online security measures to the next level. Learn how to hide your IP address, encrypt your emails, shield your credit card number, and more.
Identity Theft Protection Services
Companies We Recommend For Identity Theft Protection — There are plenty of things you can do on your own to protect yourself from identity theft. But if you want professional help with credit monitoring and ID theft protection, here’s a list of companies to consider.
Pros and Cons of Enrolling in Identity Theft Protection — As good as an ID theft protection program might sound, you may decide it’s not worth the money. Weigh the pros and cons first.
Early Warning Services, LLC — This company was formed to help eliminate fraud in the financial systems. Started over 20 years ago and currently owned by Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo, it offers the sharing of information between banking institutions to help fight fraud.
What to do if You are a Victim of Identity Theft or Fraud
Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft — Don’t wait until someone has stolen your identity to learn how to respond. When it happens, time is of the essence, so it helps to already know the steps necessary to minimize the damage. Get the facts.
How to Remove Fraudulent Accounts — If you are a victim of identity fraud, unauthorized credit accounts may have been opened in your name. You’re not stuck with them. Learn how to remove these fraudulent credit accounts from your credit reports.
A Woeful Tale of a Waylaid Wallet — Wallet was stolen? You’re not alone. Read one woman’s story of what happened to her and how what she learned can help you.