This is an excerpt from the article, “Identity Theft” For more info, please visit http://www.onguardonline.gov.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, your Social Security number, or some other personal, financial, or medical information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Online threats like phishing, malware, or hacking can lead to identity theft.
If your personal information is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised, you can minimize the potential damage from identity theft.
Put a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
Three nationwide credit reporting companies keep records of your credit history. If you think someone has misused your personal or financial information, call 1 of the companies and ask them to put an initial fraud alert on your credit report. You must provide proof of your identity. The company you call must tell the other companies about your alert.
An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit in your name, so it may try to contact
you. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you. The initial alert stays on your report for 90 days. It allows you to order 1 free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting companies.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289