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Identity Theft
Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud.

The identity thief may use our information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services.  These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name.

You may not know that you're the victim of identity theft immediately.  You could be a victim if you receive:

                Bills for items you didn't buy
                * Debt collection calls for accounts you didn't open
                * Denials for loan applications

Children and seniors are both vulnerable to identity theft.  Child identity theft may go undetected for many years.  Victims may not know until they're adults, applying for their own loans.  Seniors are vulnerable because they share their personal information often with doctors and caregivers.  The number of people and offices that access their information put them at risk.

Types of Identity Theft

There are several common types of identity theft that can affect you:

                * Tax Identity Theft - Someone uses your Social Security number to falsely file tax returns with the IRS or your state.
                * Medical Identity Theft - Someone steals your Medicare ID or health insurance member number.  Thieves use this information to get    medical services or send fake bills to your health insurer.
                * Social Identity Theft - Someone uses your name and photos to create a fake account on social media.

Take steps to avoid being a victim of identity theft.  Secure your internet connections, use security features, and review bills.


Prevent Identity Theft

Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft:

                Secure your Social Security number (SSN).  Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet.  Only give out your
SSN when absolutely necessary.

                * Don't share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number) just because someone asks for it.
                Collect mail every day.  Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days.
                * Pay attention to your billing cycles.  If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
                * Use the security features on your mobile phone.
                * Update sharing and firewall settings when you're on a public wi-fi network.  Use a virtual private network, if you use public wi-fi.
                * Review your credit card and bank account statements.  Compare receipts with account statements.  Watch for unauthorized transactions.
                * Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards, to prevent "dumpster divers" from getting your personal information.
                * Store personal information in a safe place.
                * Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
                * Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess.  Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases.
                * Review your credit reports once a year.  Be certain that they don't include accounts that you have not opened.  You can order it for free from Annualcreditreport.com.

                * Freeze your credit files with Equifax, Experian, Innovis, TransUnion, and the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange, for free.  Credit freezes prevent someone from applying for and getting approval for credit account or utility services in your name.


Report Identity Theft

Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov.  

If you report identity theft online, you will receive an identity theft report and a recovery plan.  Create an account on the website in order to update your recovery plan, track your progress, and receive prefilled form letters to send to creditors.  If you decide not to create an account, you need to print or save your identity theft report and recovery plan.  Without an account, you won't be able to access them on the website in the future.  Download the FTC's publication, Taking Charge - What to do if Your Identity is Stolen for detailed tips, checklists, and sample letters.

You may also need to report your identity theft to your local police department.  It could be necessary if:

                * You know the identity thief
                * The thief used your name in any interaction with the police
                * A creditor or another company affected by the identity theft requires you to provide a police report.


Report Specific Types of Identity Theft

You may also report specific types of identity theft to other federal agencies.

                * Medical Identity Theft - Contact your health insurance company's fraud department or Medicare's fraud office.
                * Tax Identity Theft - Report this type of identity theft to the Internal Revenue Service and the Missouri Department of Revenue.


Report Specific Theft to Other Organizations

In addition to federal government agencies, you should also report the theft to other organizations, such as:

                * Credit Reporting Agencies - Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place fraud alerts or
                   freezes on your accounts so that no one can apply for credit with your name or social security number.  Also get
                   copies of your credit reports, to be sure that no one has
already tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your
             personal information.  .  Confirm that the credit reporting agency will alert the other two credit reporting agencies.

                * National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center - Report cases of identity theft that resulted from a stay in
                   a nursing home or long-term care facility.

                * Financial Institutions - Contact the fraud department at your bank, credit card issuers and any other places where
                   you have accounts.

                * Retailers and Other Companies - Report the crime to companies where the identity thief opened credit accounts or even
   applied for jobs.

         
* Missouri Attorney General's Office - May offer resources to help you contact creditors, dispute errors and other
                   helpful resources.

You may need to get new personal records or identification cards if your identity was stolen.

 
 
  
Tax Identity Theft

 
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job.  You may not
be aware of the problem until you E-file your tax return and find out that another return has already been filed using your
Social Security number.  If the IRS suspects tax identity theft, they will send a 5071C letter to the address on the federal tax
return.  Keep in mind, the IRS will never start contact with you by sending an email, text, or social media message that asks
for personal or financial information.  Watch out for IRS impostor scams, when someone contacts you saying they work for the
IRS.


Report Tax Identity Theft     

If you suspect you have become a victim of tax identity theft - or the IRS sends you a letter or notice indicating a problem-
take these steps:

                * File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov.  You can also call the FTC Identity Theft-
                   Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.
                * Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records:
                                                ~ Equifax:  1-888-766-0008
                                                ~ Experian:  1-888-397-3742
                                                ~ TransUnion:  1-800-680-7289

                * Contact your financial institutions, and close any accounts opened without your permission or that show unusual
                   activity.
                * Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided.  If instructed, go to the IRS Identity Verification
                   Service.

* Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, the mail or fax according to instructions.

                     * Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.

                        * Check with the Missouri Department of Revenue to see what steps to take at the state level.

 

How to Protect Yourself

Follow these steps to prevent tax identity theft:

DO:

File your income taxes early in the season, before a thief can file taxes in your name.  Also, keep an eye out for any IRS letter or notice that states:

  • More than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number.
  • You owe additional tax, you have had a tax refund offset, or you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.

DON’T:

  • Don’t reply to or click on any links in suspicious emails, texts, and social media messages.Make sure to report anything suspicious to the IRS.

 

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft can occur when someone steals your personal identification number to obtain medical care, buy medication, access your medical records, or submit fake claims to your insurer or Medicare in your name.

 

Report Medical Identity Theft

If you believe you have been a victim of medical identity theft, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261) and your health insurance company’s fraud department.  You can report the theft through IdentityTheft.gov to share with the FTC and with law enforcement.  Also get copies of your medical records and work with your doctor’s office and insurance company to correct them.

If you suspect you have been a victim of Medicare fraud, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

 

Prevent Medical Identity Theft

Take these steps to prevent medical identity theft:

  • Guard your Social Security, Medicare, and health insurance identification numbers.Only give your number to your physician or other approved health care providers.
  • Review your explanation of benefits or Medicare Summary Notice to make sure that the claims match the services you received.Report questionable charges to your health insurance provider or Medicare.
  • Request and carefully review a copy of your medical records for inaccuracies and conditions that you don’t have.

 

 



       
       
       
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