Recently someone used my identity to create phony checks and open credit in my name. I suspect they used information that a previous employer of mine had "lost," which seems to be quite common these days according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
Of the steps to take if you suspect identity theft, immediately get copies of your credit reports to review charges and information. You can request your credit report once a year from the official site managed by the 3 big credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). The address is http://www.annualcreditreport.com
Why is reviewing your credit reports so important?
To my horror, I discovered not only the fraudulent checks but that the identity thief’s phone number and street address in Las Vegas were documented on my credit report. No doubt the inquiry from Verizon Wireless on my credit report related to the phone number.
Upon receiving my free credit reports, I was able to go online and quickly submit requests for investigations to the 3 credit bureaus as well as delete the fraudulent contact information.
If you were part of a "data breach" where an organization lost data,
take advantage if they offer you a year of free credit monitoring. I
mention this as Bob Sullivan at MSNBC wrote that few consumers choose
to take advantage of credit alert services after they are victims of a data breach:
Larry Ponemon, who operates the research firm The Ponemon Institute,
found in a recent survey that 1 in 9 adult Americans received a
data-loss disclosure notice last year. But most recipients told his
firm they spurned free credit monitoring — in many cases because they
did not trust the company that was making the offer….Victims demonstrated a greater willingness to accept a cash payout,
Ponemon said. In one instance, consumers more readily accepted a $10
credit to their phone service than an offer of free credit monitoring,
Do not take the $10! $10 vs. signing up for a service that tells you if someone is abusing your identity? It can cost hundreds of dollars or more to recover your identity.