How to Handle Identity Theft

How It Can Happen

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There are many ways criminals can obtain your personal information. As technology advances, thieves come up with new techniques, but there are old-fashioned ways that still yield success for these bandits.

Skimming

This is an electronic method of stealing a person’s information. It happens when your credit card is swiped at a merchant’s machine, gas station or questionable looking ATM machine. It works by storing your personal information contained in the magnetic strip. This theft can take place during a legitimate business transaction. Once your information is stolen, the fraudulent charges will show up on your credit card statements.

Phishing

This happens when you receive an email claiming it’s from your bank, credit card issuer or possibly your utility company. The email will say there’s a problem or emergency with your account, asking you to click on a link to log-in immediately. Once you click the link, you are forwarded to a fake website where hackers are anxiously waiting for you to enter your username and password, allowing them to capture and ultimately steal your identity.

Obituaries

This is a more in-depth approach in which criminals look through obituaries to see who has died. The fraudsters steal or divert mail in order to obtain credit card and bank account information. Now that the person is diseased, a thief could copy their information and pose as them. It’s harder to be caught stealing someone’s identity when that person isn’t alive to notice.

Tax Filing

Criminals can steal your identity and claim your tax return. This is done when your social security number is obtained and in most cases, you usually won’t find out until after the second return is filed, which could be from you or the person who has stolen your information.

When the IRS receives two different returns with the same social security number, the second will be rejected and you will receive a notice in the mail. If this happens to you, the steps to correct is start with filing IRS Form 14039. You will mail this form to the IRS along with a copy of your Social Security card and driver’s license or U.S. passport.

Next: You’ve Become a Victim of Identity Theft, Now What? »

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