Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund.
Most people who experience identity theft must take several steps to recover. IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. The site provides step-by-step advice and helpful resources like easy-to-print checklists and sample letters. If you believe that someone is using your personal information, visit IdentityTheft.gov.
If you’re concerned about identity theft, data breaches, or someone gaining access to your credit report without your permission, you might consider placing a credit freeze on your report. A freeze stops the major credit reporting agencies from sharing your credit information with potential creditors. Most businesses will not open new credit without access to this information. A freeze does not affect your credit score.
For more information on placing or lifting a credit freeze, click here.
Once you discover that someone has stolen your identity, you should immediately place a fraud alert on your credit report. You can get an alert by calling any of the three major credit bureaus. You only need to contact one agency. That agency will then notify the remaining two that they should place an alert on your profile. Fraud alerts are free of charge.