Identity Theft Tops List of Complaints
Thieves can steal your silver or your gold. They can also steal your identity and your peace of mind.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lists information about consumer complaints it receives. Since 2011,
the past dozen years in a row place identity theft complaints at the top of the list. That year, more than
1.8 million total complaints were filed. 15 percent of them were identity theft complaints. In that
category, tax or wage-related fraud was related to nearly 25 percent of such complaints.
The cost to Americans is very high. Even if only information from people who filed a police report is used,
identity theft results in losses of billions of dollars annually. But it can also wreck finances, reputations,
and credit histories of those whose identities are stolen. Resolving the situation takes time, patience, and
An identity thief can do all sorts of things with your personal information. He can siphon off your bank
account, make charges on your credit cards, or open new accounts in your name. Clever thieves might
access your health insurance to get medical treatment or get your tax refund by filing a false return in
your name. You might get blamed when the thief is arrested.
If you see unexplained withdrawals from your financial institution accounts, stop getting bills, or if debt
collectors start calling you for debts that you don’t owe, take action. Find out if this is truly an identity
If it does seem to be a case of identity theft, the initial steps to take are:
Ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report
Create an identity theft report
Order and monitor your credit reports.
Talk to the credit reporting companies about placing a credit freeze on your file. Such a freeze makes
your credit report unavailable to potential creditors. An identity thief will have difficulty if he tries to
open new accounts in your name.
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