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Identity Theft and Steps to Consider

identity theft

Have you ever had your wallet stolen or your personal information compromised? The next thing you know, you could be receiving bills from credit card companies that you never applied to, or you find out someone has already claimed your income tax refund. Welcome to everyone’s nightmare – identity theft.

9 Ways You Might Discover Identity Theft

It’s possible for your identity to be stolen without you even knowing it! That’s why it’s important to be aware of some potentially serious warning signs:

  • Charges you didn’t make on your credit card
  • Unauthorized debits on your bank statements
  • Medical charges for procedures you didn’t undergo
  • Notations on your credit report for a loan you didn’t authorize
  • Credit card denials for new purchases when you haven’t yet reached your limit
  • Phone calls from a collection agency about unauthorized purchases
  • Missing mail and bills from your normal creditors
  • Notification of unemployment benefits for which you didn’t apply
  • Notification of a duplicate tax return filing

Steps To Consider If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

  • Contact all your credit card companies where unauthorized use took place. Tell them that you think your identity may have been stolen. Address each unauthorized charge on your statements. Your credit card company may be able to reverse the charges or shut down the account, so no further activity occurs. If needed, cancel the credit cards and request new ones.
  • Submit an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission online at www.identitytheft.gov. You should receive an identity theft report, a recovery plan, and form letters to send to creditors.
  • Place a one-year fraud alert on your credit reports. This will alert anyone who pulls your credit report that they should take additional steps to verify your identity before granting credit. You only need to contact one of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion™, Experian™ or Equifax™, and they will contact the other two. The alert can be renewed for seven years after the initial one-year period.
  • Place a credit freeze on your credit reports for each of the three credit bureaus. Unless you temporarily lift or permanently remove the credit freeze, no one will be able to open new accounts in your name if a credit score is required.
  • File a police report. A police report or the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft report is needed if you want to request a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit reports. Call the non-emergency number for your local police department or stop by in person.
  • If someone has filed an income tax return in your name and stolen your refund, notify the Internal Revenue Service and your state’s department of revenue.
  • After you report the fraud to banks and other companies involved in the identity theft, you may need to file a dispute with each of the three credit bureaus to remove any collection agency notices, late payments, and balances owed due to fraud. Monitor your reports carefully until all disputed information is removed.

Will You be Liable for any Fraudulent Charges?

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, the maximum liability for unauthorized charges is $50 for each credit card you have. Nevertheless, most credit card companies offer protections for those affected by identity theft, and you may not owe anything.

Fraudulent ATM authorizations, debit card transactions, and electronic transfers are protected under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, but your liability may increase the longer you wait to report a theft. If you discover your card has been lost or stolen before any unauthorized transactions have taken place, there is no liability. If you notify your bank within two days of a fraudulent transaction, your liability is $50; within 60 days, your liability is limited to $500. If you report the loss after 60 days, your liability is unlimited, and you may also be subject to overdraft fees.

Ways to Help Prevent Identity Theft

Below are 9 tips that may help protect you from identity theft:

  1. Change your passwords every three months
  2. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet
  3. Receive and pay your bills online to prevent theft from your mailbox
  4. Monitor your bank and credit card statements carefully to spot unauthorized charges
  5. Request your free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once every 12 months from www.annualcreditreport.com (you can receive it more often if you have reported an identity theft)
  6. File your income taxes as early as possible
  7. Avoid opening emails or attachments from a suspicious address
  8. Do not divulge personal information online
  9. Do not give out any financial information, your social security number, or passwords over the phone

At Mariner Finance, we provide you with personalized, safe, and secure online loan service. You can also go to your local branch to explore loan options, check on your application, or pay your note. Give us a call today at  877-310-2373 to learn more.

The information provided in this article does not constitute financial advice and is provided for educational purposes only without any express or implied warranty of any kind. This article is not intended as legal, tax, investment, or any other advice, and Mariner Finance does not offer credit repair services. Consider talking with an appropriate qualified professional for specific advice. Blog posts are for informational purposes only.