If your information has been stolen, it can be used for financial gain. Hackers can access your personal information to make charges on credit cards, open new accounts, get medical treatment with your health insurance, and even file a tax refund. Unfortunately, identity theft is an invisible crime and leaves victims financially and emotionally unstable.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the illegal use of someone else’s personal information in order to obtain money or credit. Hackers quietly steal your identity and use it for financial gain. Nearly 60 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year which adds up to over $17 billion in stolen money.
Has someone stolen your information?
Below are some clues that a thief has stolen your information.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain. Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
What should you do if your information has been exposed?
Social Security: Consider placing a free credit freeze. This makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name with your SSN.Also, do not believe anyone who calls and says you will be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt – even if they have part or all of your SSN.
Debit card, credit card and bank information: Contact your bank to cancel your card and request a new one. Also, review your transactions regularly.
Online password: Change your passwords so each site has a different login access.
Driver’s License Information: Contact your nearest motor vehicles branch to report a lost or stolen driver’s license. The state might flag your license number in case someone else tries to use it.
Children’s personal information: Request a free credit freeze on your child. A credit freeze will make it difficult for someone to use your child’s information to open accounts.
If you need to file a report, contact the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338.
If you or a loved one are in need of an attorney or would like to explore other resources, you can utilize if they are being abused, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.
Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, firstname.lastname@example.org.