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WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity theft is a scary thought. You CANNOT prevent it 100%. You have to file government documents for stuff like: taxes, social security, W2's to get paid by your job and many more documents, most of which get put into a vunerable computer system that's easy pickens for hackers. Even your mail can get stolen which will contain your address and social, such as on your tax filings each year. Oh, you file online? Just as bad and easily hackable by your neighborhood online thief. But what can you do about all this? You can at least limit your information "out there" as much as you can, and learn the ways to help yourself once your identity has been compromised.
First, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check your credit reports with the 3 top credit agencies for free 1 time each year. ANNUALCREDITREPORT.COM has been chosen by the government to give you this for free. Of course, they are allowed to try to sell you products that they make money on, but you don't have to buy ANYTHING ever. You can just get your free reports.
How can you tell early if you may have had your identity stolen? Here are some common signs:
You have some bills that don't arrive when expected or not at all.
You get call or letters about purchases you didn't make.
Incorrect information on your credit history like addresses you never lived at.
You receive unexpected credit offers.
Your credit card bill has some weird charges.
Denials or approvals for credit you didn't apply for.
You file your taxes and it comes back saying you've already filed.
Medical bills in your name for treatments that you never received or wrong dates.
IDENTITY STOLEN? DO THIS:
I could write a bunch of instructions here to help with your problem but in a couple months they would be out of date. Use the website that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up for you, it's FREE: IDENTITYTHEFT.GOV. It's a comprehensive website that walks you through what to do for 5 different situations of identity theft. (see pic below). They even have live people you can chat with.
You could also have your credit monitored by several popular monitoring agencies, but in most cases, they don't prevent the theft, merely alert you that something may be going on and at least the earlier you find out, the less you can keep the damage to your reputation/credit history. Protect What Matters Most with IdentityForce.com or Lifelock.com.
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