Identify Theft Is A Serious Problem! Identity theives get your personal information in many ways by stealing records, stealing your wallet or purse, hacking records, calling and saying there is something wrong with your account, stealing your mail inclulding bank & credit card statements, credit card offers, checks, and tax information. Dumpster diving is another way they can get information. Make sure you shred any bills or financial information before putting it in the trash.
Identity thieves will open new credit card accounts but not pay the bills so you are reported as deliquent on your credit report. They may set up a new billing address so you don't recieve the statement or open a new bank account, may buy a car under your name by taking a loan out.
If your personal information is lost or stolen place a fraud alert on your credit reports. When you put it on either Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289 you only need to put it on one of the 3 companies. The company you call is requiried to contact the other 2 and place an alert on your report too.
When you put the fraud alert in your file you are entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and if you ask , only the last four digits of your social security number will appear on your credit reports. An initial report stays on for 90 days and an extended alert stays on your credit report for 7 years. Close any accounts that you think have been comprimised.
For really good in depth information go to www.ftc.gov/idtheft