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We've all heard about it,
but not everyone understands how to prevent it,
or what to do if you think your identity has been stolen.
Get the facts on this widespread problem
from the loan professionals at 1st Mariner Mortgage.
Identity theft has always been a problem,
but in the Internet Age it has become an epidemic.
The number of ways to steal someone's identity
is limited only by a thief's imagination,
and methods can be as sophisticated as
computer hacking or as "old-fashioned"
as stealing someone's wallet or going through their trash.
Once they have your identity,
thieves can swiftly run up bills
in the tens of thousands of dollars
while they cause serious harm to your finances and credit rating.
The best protection against identity theft
is personal vigilance.
Don't carry your social security card,
never share your personal information
with anyone you don't know,
shred all sensitive financial documents,
and carefully review your bank and credit card statements
for any suspicious activity.
Other indications of identity theft include:
Failing to receive bills that you expect every month
Receiving credit cards for which you didn't apply
Denial of credit for no apparent reason,
and receiving calls from debt collectors
about merchandise or services you didn't buy.
If you suspect that your identity has been compromised,
take the following steps immediately:
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Close the accounts that you believe have been compromised.
File a report with the police.
Contact your bank and all of your creditors
to alert them of your situation,
and follow up with them in writing.
It's critical that you act as soon as you suspect a problem,
to minimize the damage to yourself and your credit.