By Emily McDonnell and Katherine Rivers
The state of Vermont defines identity theft as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal identifying information to obtain credit, goods, services, money, or property. It is common that identity theft occurs from use of your credit card and bank account information.
There are some instances where your social security number and other personal information may be used to acquire identification, lines of credit, loans, or other consumer accounts fraudulently. For more information on Vermont laws regarding privacy and data security, click here.
Identity theft is more common than you would think and it is evolving rapidly with the growth of technology. All our information is a couple clicks away.
Here are 5 ways to protect yourself if you suspect you are a victim to identity theft:
- Review Your Credit Reports. You can obtain your free credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find anything that should not be there, be sure to save a copy of the report. Then, contact the credit reporting agency to dispute all inaccurate items.
- Place a Fraud Alert or Freeze on Your Credit Reports. You can find out more information from the Federal Trade Commission about fraud alerts and freezing your credit files. To place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit files, contact the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.
- Close Accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a Police Report. File an “identity theft” police report and ask for a copy for your records. Find your local policy agency.
- File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Click here to be directed to the complaint page of the Federal Trade Commission.
Want More Info?
Identity theft is a complex issue facing consumers all over the country. Find out more about identity theft by visiting identity theft.gov, the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft help and information site.
Navigating the identity theft recovery process can be overwhelming. Vermonters with questions about the process can call the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 or the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338.