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You are here: Home . news . 2015 . tdi041515

April 15, 2015

CONSUMER ALERT: AT TAX TIME, AVOID RISKS OF IDENTITY THEFT

AUSTIN – Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as Social Security number and date of birth, with the intent to commit fraud or to aid an unlawful activity. For the 2015 federal income tax season, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) urges consumers to consider a few simple safeguards to keep sensitive information out of the hands of wrongdoers.

The occurrence of identity theft is increasing. The health insurance industry was recently compromised by computer security breaches involving the identities of hundreds of thousands of policyholders. Once personal information is collected, the identity thief may obtain new credit cards, open bank accounts to write bad checks, and even take out a loan, all in your name.

It´s important to act quickly if you suspect that you´ve been the victim of identity theft. The following are common warning signs:

  • You receive bills from a credit account you did not open.
  • You see unauthorized charges on your credit card bill, long distance bill, or bank statement.
  • You are contacted by a collection agency regarding a debt you did not incur.
  • Bank and credit billing statements don´t arrive on time.
  • Your credit report shows accounts or inquiries you did not authorize.
  • You are turned down for insurance or notified of a rate increase, or are refused a credit card, loan, mortgage, or other form of credit because of unauthorized debt on your credit report.
  • You are notified by a company with whom you do business that your personal information may have been inadvertently disclosed to other parties or fraudulently obtained.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft:

  • File a police report with your local law enforcement agency and keep a copy of the report. Many banks and credit agencies require a police report before they will acknowledge that a theft has occurred.
  • Contact the three primary credit reporting bureaus to have a security alert or freeze placed on your report.
  • Request a copy of your credit report and review it for unauthorized account activity. Continue to review your credit report periodically to verify its accuracy.
  • Report unauthorized charges and accounts to the appropriate creditors and credit bureaus immediately by phone and in writing. Cancel the accounts.
  • If your wallet, purse, or checkbook is lost or stolen, immediately cancel your credit and debit cards and get replacements. Contact your bank and stop payment on all lost or stolen checks.
  • If you´re notified by a business that your personal information may have been fraudulently obtained by another party, contact one of the credit bureaus as soon as possible and ask that a fraud alert be placed on your account.
  • Check your credit report on a regular basis. If you see unusual activity, you can promptly investigate by contacting the three credit bureaus: Equifax – www.equifax.com/1-800-525-6285; Experian – www.experian.com/1-888-397-3742; and TransUnion – www.transunion.com/1-800-680-7289.

For more information about detecting and preventing identity theft, visit the TDI website at: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/idtheftalert.html .



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Last updated: 04/15/2015

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