Last week’s post dealt with preventing identity theft. This is especially true for the holidays, as cyber thieves just love to take advantage of the increased debit and credit card transactions that occur during the busy shopping season.
Amateur identity thieves will sometimes rifle through people’s trash, hoping to come across discarded bank statements or other forms with account numbers or other sensitive information printed on them.
Sometimes, you won’t know you’re a victim of identity theft until months or years after the fact. You go to use your credit card, or to file your taxes, only to find that someone else has already done so under your name. A quick check of your credit report shows a random loan under your name, or the IRS insists your tax return has already been processed and your refund sent.
Those are dead giveaways. Here’s what to do if you discover you’ve been a victim of identity theft:
Safeguarding your personal information is a must year-round, but especially during the holiday season. Never disclose your PIN or bank account number to anyone. Never write down your PIN where it can easily be found, such as in your wallet or even in your phone.
Act quickly if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Notify your bank, credit reporting agencies, mortgage company and other entities. Fill out a police report and an FTC affidavit. Don’t wait. Untangling identity theft can take time, and you want time on your side.
By taking a proactive approach to safeguarding your personal information, you’re less likely to be targeted by identity thieves. If you are one of the unlucky ones who has been targeted, you have the information you need to take action quickly.
Stay safe out there.