Protect yourself from identity theft

Every other day or so the headlines notify us of another compromise of personal information. Uber, Equifax and even the United States Office of Personnel Management are just a few of the well-publicized targets.

For more than a decade, identity theft has topped the list of consumer complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. In 2012, a record 2 million complaints were filed with the FTC and 18 percent of them were related to identity theft. Many people operate under the idea that is it no longer an instance of “if” your personal information is compromised, but rather “when.” With this in mind, it’s wise to know what to do if you discover your personal information has been compromised, even if you’re not completely sure it
was misused.

Headlines aside, what are some very basic warning signs of identity theft?

• Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account.
• Courtesy calls from your credit card company asking about charges that you did not authorize.
• The Internal Revenue Service notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name.

The following list is an abbreviated version of a more detailed action list from the American Dental Association that attempts to provide dentists with the information they need to respond to the unauthorized disclosure or theft of their personal information. This list has not been approved by the FTC, IRS or Social Security Administration and should not be treated as legal advice. If you find yourself in an identity theft situation, consult your legal professional for advice that is specific to your needs.

If your Social Security number is compromised:

• Keep records.
• Immediately place initial fraud alerts.
• Request name of the investigating law enforcement
officer and obtain police report.
• Notify IRS of compromised Social Security number.
• File a complaint with the FTC.
• Consider placing a security freeze (or “credit freeze”).
• After about one month, obtain an initial free
credit report.
• Periodically review your credit report.
• Watch for signs of misuse.

If your Social Security number is misused:

• Respond to signs of misuse.
• Close any compromised accounts.
• File a complaint with the FTC.
• File a report with local police.
• Consider placing an extended fraud alert on your
credit report.

And what if your personal information has been lost or compromised, but you have not seen any signs of actual identity theft? There are still some steps the FTC encourages you to take:

• Contact the credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit file.
• Check your bank accounts for any unusual activity.
• Order your credit report periodically to monitor your accounts.

The ADA Center for Professional Success has more resources on this topic, including a downloadable 10-page guide on protecting yourself from identity theft. This member-only web resource also provides practice management information and other support tools to assist you with the daily challenges you face in your office and in life. Visit the site today at Success.ADA.org.

One comment

  • Donald Mcgreggor

    To prevent it, You should buy RFID protected Wallet. I would recommend Mani Wonders as a good company. Good luck out there, so many people are out there to steel your information.

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