Every three seconds another American becomes a victim of identity theft. Florida is number two in the country for identity theft complaints. No one is immune from identity theft. In fact, there is nothing you can do or a service you can buy that will prevent it from happening to you. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of specific types of identity theft. Download a printable version of the Tip Sheet.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has launched My Social Security Account (MySSA), which permits you to manage your benefits online. To create your account, visit www.SSA.gov and click on the box, “my Social Security.” You will be required to enter your name, address, date of birth and social security number. Note: the site uses the latest security measures to protect your information. Next, you will be asked a series of questions based on the data on one of your credit reports. Questions asked could include how much is your mortgage payment, what is the address of the property where you have the mortgage, or how much is your car loan payment. After answering the questions, you will be able to view your benefits. You can also change your deposit account or file for benefits if you are not yet receiving them.
Unfortunately, thieves have been using this system to steal your benefits. To prevent this from happening to you, there are two options:
The act of either setting up your account or requesting to block electronic access will prevent someone else from creating an account using your information. If, when you are attempting to create or block your account, you are notified you already have an account, you may already be a victim. You will need to contact Social Security to notify them of the potential fraud and inquire about the procedures to correct the problem.
A security freeze, also known as a credit freeze, blocks access to your credit report. Once created, you must use your assigned or created PIN, one per bureau, to temporarily lift the freeze to review your credit report. The fee to activate a security freeze is $10 per bureau. If you are a resident of Florida and over the age of 65 or a victim of identity theft, this fee is waived. Each time you lift or reinstate the freeze, you may be charged a fee, typically around $10. You can also place a security freeze on behalf of your minor children. To place a credit freeze, contact each credit bureau directly.
TransUnion https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.htmlor call 888-909-8872
Equifax https://www.freeze.equifax.com or call 800-685-1111
3. NCTUEThe NCTUE is the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities exchange, which collects information about utilities and telecom account information. This may include new connections, payment history and more. You are permitted to request a free copy of your NCTUE report. To request your free report, call 1-866-349-5185. Once you have requested and reviewed your report, you have the option of placing a freeze on your report. This is similar to a credit freeze. For additional information, visit their website: http://www.nctue.com/Consumers.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact the IRS for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490. They have teams available to assist.
Nothing can prevent identity theft. These tips are to provide you withadditional information so you may choose the options that are best for you.
Steps to take if you become a victimIf you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
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