Has My Identity Been Compromised?
The thought of your identity being stolen can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, in today’s digital age, more people are experiencing this scenario than ever before. In 2012, one in 20 Americans fell victim to identity theft.
The good news is that if you notice the clues early, there are a number of ways you can minimize the damage and rectify the situation. The more vigilant you are about looking for warning signs, the harder it will be for identity thieves to get what they want.
Common identity theft warning signs:
- There are unexplained charges on your credit card bill.
- You receive a notification for an account you didn’t open.
- You do not receive your normal bills or other mail.
- You are denied credit for no apparent reason.
Actions to take if you think your identity may be at risk:
- Check the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Guidance on Identity Theft and file a complaint.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review all your credit reports carefully.
- A fraud alert is a consumer statement added to your credit report with the credit agencies. This statement alerts creditors of possible fraudulent activity within your report, as well as requests that they contact you prior to establishing any accounts in your name.
- Click on each credit reporting company to place a fraud alert: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
- Order a free copy of your credit report, which you are entitled to once a year from each of the three consumer reporting companies, at www.annualcreditreport.com.*
*Note: www.annualcreditreport.com is the only source provided by the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to obtain free credit reports in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately.
- Alert your local police, and keep a copy of the police report on hand - credit companies and merchants may require a copy of it in order to remove fraudulent charges from your account.
If you have specific questions, VA’s Identity Safety Service can answer your questions about identity theft. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call VA’s toll-free identity theft help line at 1-855-578-5492.