Commonly Asked Questions about Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is the practice of stealing your personal information for criminal activity. Examples of what this may include are taking over your credit account, opening new accounts, taking out loans in your name, renting properties in your name, or accessing personal bank accounts.

The trickiest aspect of these crimes is that they may not involve physical theft, and therefore may not be noticed until after the damage has been done. This can mean months of inconvenience and time spent correcting the problem, in addition to the financial cost.
You may be more vulnerable than you think. Some common opportunities include:
  • Collecting personal information that you've shared over unsecured websites
  • Completing change-of-address forms to redirect your mail
  • Going through your mail or trash to find credit offers, bank and credit card statements, or medical records
  • Stealing personal information that you may be carrying with you if a wallet or purse is lost
  • Buying personal information about you from an inside source, such as a criminal with access to "skimmed" credit card records
  • Illegally viewing your personnel records at work
Once a criminal has access to your identity information, you could be vulnerable in a number of ways:
  • They can open new bank accounts in your name, writing bad checks on the account
  • They can sign up for new credit cards using your name, DOB, and SSN. When the charges they make aren't paid for, the delinquency is associated with your credit report
  • They can establish phone service in your name, ignoring the charges
  • Counterfeit checks or debit cards can be used to steal funds from your bank account
  • Auto loans can be taken out in your name, further damaging your reputation if they go unpaid
  • They can file for bankruptcy in your name to avoid paying debts that they have been charged with under your name
  • Thieves can call your credit card issuer, pretending to be you, and changing the address on the account. They can then request that new cards be issued, or that the credit limit be increased. You may not realize this has happened until you check your credit report.
While identity thieves do target children and their clean credit histories, a sad reality of child identity theft is that parents or family members of a child have been found to use the child's identity information, often in times of desperation.

The Equifax Identity Report is a helpful tool in validating the identity of someone before you engage in a major transaction with that person. The report is a snapshot of your identity information and, if you choose, a summary of your credit standing. The information is shared securely, and only at your request.

Verifying someone's identity with this kind of report may be a good idea before buying or selling a car or hiring a nanny or a contractor, for example. It can help you or them "stand out from the crowd" and can be a good first step towards a successful transaction.

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