Identity theft occurs when a thief steals someone's personal information to commit fraud. Generally, the thief will use a stolen Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases or get a tax refund.
If you notice withdrawals from your bank account that you do not recognize, get bills that aren't yours or receive calls about debts you don't owe, you might be the victim of identity theft.
Once identity theft is detected, it is important that you act quickly. First steps should include calling the companies where the fraud occurred, placing fraud alerts on your credit report and contacting your credit union or bank.
Though identity theft can happen to anyone, you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim by doing the following:
- Closely monitor your account statements.
- Investigate further if a bill does not show up when you expect it to.
- Shred any unneeded documents that contain personal and/or financial information.
- Review your credit report annually.
- Do not share any sign-in information, like usernames and passwords.
For more information on what to do if you suspect you've been the victim of identity theft, please visit ftc.gov/idtheft.