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Identity Theft- Next steps

Identity Theft

 We all know by now that we are supposed to carefully guard our social security number. You may have read some safety tips here on this blog or in Renaissance magazine. So, what do you do if your Social Security number is misused?

 The Social Security Administration protects your Social Security number and keeps your records confidential. They do not give your number to anyone, except when authorized by law. However, in the event that your identity is stolen or your Social Security number misused, they are not able to investigate that matter. Instead, the SSA recommends the following:

To report identity theft, fraud, or misuse of your Social Security number, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, recommends that you take the following steps:

Step 1:  Place a fraud alert on your credit file by contacting one of the three companies:

The company you contact is required to contact the other two, which will then place an alert on their versions of your report.

Step 2:  Review your credit report for inquiries from companies you have not contacted; accounts you did not open; and debts on your accounts that you cannot explain.

Step 3:  Close any accounts you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Step 4:  File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Step 5:  File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling them at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261).

You also should monitor your credit report periodically. Free credit reports are available online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

 You also may want to contact the Internal Revenue Service. An identity thief might also use your Social Security number to file a tax return in order to receive a refund. If the thief files the tax return before you do, the IRS will believe you already filed and received your refund if eligible. If your Social Security number is stolen, another individual may use it to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return. If you think you may have tax issues because someone has stolen your identity, contact the IRS Identity Protection Unit at http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html or call 1-800-908-4490.