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How to Protect Against and Recover from Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when someone uses another’s personal information without permission, and everyone’s a target. In fact, it’s estimated that in 2014, 17.6 million people fell victim to identity theft. Criminals look for social security numbers, birthdates, passwords, Medicare numbers, passport numbers, and bank account numbers.

This information can be used to open new lines of credit in someone’s name, steal tax refunds, get medical care, and more. The damage can take years to resolve, negatively impact one’s credit score and hurt their chances of getting loans, insurance, and more credit.

Identity theft also puts the credit union at risk of a major loss. Anytime an individual's account or personal information is compromised, we must identify the risks of identity theft.

Follow these steps to recover from identity theft

  • Inform your creditors and financial institutions
  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission
  • Notify the Social Security Administration
  • Review your credit report
  • Monitor your report closely moving forward

Beware are some common red flags below that must be resolved properly before opening memberships, accounts, or granting loans.

  • A fraud or active duty alert is included with the credit report.
  • A credit bureau provides a notice of an address discrepancy.
  • The credit report or use of the account that indicates a pattern of activity is inconsistent with the history or pattern of activity usually associated with the member, such as:
  • A recent and significant increase in the volume of inquiries;
  • An unusual number of recently established credit relationships;
  • A material change in the use of credit, especially with respect to recently established credit relationships; or
  • An account that was closed for cause or identified for abuse of account privileges by a financial institutions or creditor.
  • The address, SSN, and phone numbers have been submitted by other consumers.

If you or someone you know has been victim of identity theft, follow these steps immediately to recover:

  1. Contact your creditors to report the crime and request “fraudulent transaction documentation.”
  2. For checking account fraud, contact your financial institution immediately to place stop payments on outstanding checks that you did not write. Request new account numbers and passwords. Then, monitor all future account statements carefully.
  3. File a report with your local police or sheriff’s department or the police where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy of this report and the investigator assigned to it.
  4. File an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  5. If someone else has used your address, notify your local postal inspector.
  6. If someone else has used your social security number, notify the social security administration.
  7. Obtain credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). If you don’t seen any fraudulent activity, you still need to notify the bureaus. If you do see fraudulent activity, notify the bureaus and request a “fraud alert” to be placed on your file. Be sure to contact the bureaus frequently and consistently as you work out errors.
  8. Check your credit report every three months for one to two years to ensure the matter has resolved.
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