Identity Theft Basics

What is identity theft and how do I handle it?

Let’s be honest – dealing with identity theft is usually a big pain. You probably groan inwardly anytime you get an email alert from a creditor indicating there’s been some suspicious activity on your account. But like many physical health challenges, prevention is often the best cure when it comes to identity theft. With the right strategy, you can avoid identity theft in most cases, and if it happens to you then you can address any issues promptly with as little hassle as possible.

The information in this section is designed to help you understand what identity theft is and how you can take steps to avoid it. We also explain how to report and handle ID theft if it happens to you, so you can keep the hassle and expense to a minimum. If you have questions, just call us or complete the online application to request help now.

What is identity theft?

There are basically two types of identity theft that you have to worry about as a consumer:

  1. An unauthorized user gains access to one of your accounts to make transactions without your permission.
  2. Someone users your personal information to open or use credit in your name.

The first type is more common – where someone gains access to your account and makes charges you didn’t authorize. This is the kind of ID theft you have to worry about if you shopped at a store that had a data breach. It also can happen when someone – usually a family member – has access to your account for a specific purpose, but then also uses it for other charges you didn’t clear.

This type of identity theft is also easier to catch, because you can take note of unauthorized charges on your accounts when you review your monthly statements. Additionally, many creditors and even banks where you have a debit or checking account will flag suspicious charges and email you to review the transactions. If you have this kind of protection, it’s easier to spot ID theft AND handle the aftermath, because you can simply have the charges you didn’t authorize removed.

The second type of identity theft is a little more insidious because it’s harder to spot. If someone gets your personal information, including your Social Security number, then they can open new accounts that you may not know about until there’s a problem or you’re applying for a new loan or line of credit. Unless you review your credit report yearly, this type of ID theft is usually the one that surprises you when you go to buy a new car or home and get turned down.

What is identity theft prevention?

Identity theft prevention is the series of steps you take to protect your personal information and account data. You may set up ID theft protect on individual accounts and then use something like a credit monitoring service to create an additional layer of protection.

Taking preventative action is important because the more checks you have in place, the more likely you are to spot identity theft early so you can report it promptly. The longer it takes you to identify identity theft and report it, the more hassle (and cost) you may have to eat to deal with the aftermath.

Credit monitoring services are often the best prevention method because they help flag issues with both types of identity theft. Individual account protections are fine for catching unauthorized charges on a single account, but they won’t cover all your accounts the same way and won’t catch new accounts in your name at all.

From online to offline protections, we walk you through the basic steps every consumer should follow to keep their identity and personal data safe. Learn how to prevent identity theft so you don’t have the extra hassle and expense of removing authorized accounts and charges from your credit history.

Learn how to identify identity theft and report it so you can re-secure your personal information and data quickly. Taking these steps can help you minimize the cost and the time-sink that can be caused by addressing problems with identity theft. We help you recover as fast as possible!