Victim of identity theft? Here’s what to do next

Posted at 6:44 AM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-26 06:44:45-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It seems every week we are hearing of another company falling victim to a security breach.

In fact in 2017, the U.S. saw a record number of data breach incidents.

The Better Business Bureau says that once thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, open new utility accounts, even get medical treatment on your health insurance.

Plus, this being tax season, thieves can even file a tax refund in your name and get your refund.

If you discover that your information has been stolen, the key is to get out in front of it before damage is done.

Some of the warning signs that you've been targeted include unexplained withdrawals from your bank account, not getting your bills in the mail, or finding accounts or charges on your credit report that you don't recognize.

"As soon as you find out, if it's your Social Security number, you want to contact the IRS, put a freeze or a credit hold on it so that it's flagged in case anyone tries to use it again," explained John Masterson of the Better Business Bureau serving West Michigan.

"If it's your credit card, contact your bank immediately or change the credit card altogether. If it's an email address, change your password."

Masterson also urges people to be picky with whom you share sensitive information online.

"Use secure websites as well. That's something we see ," Masterson added. "You don't see the HTTPS in the url, and they submit credit card information or drivers license number, and then [that information] is lost in cyber space."

The Federal Trade Commission says on average it can take about six months, or 200 hours of work, to recover from identity theft.

Here are some resources for reporting identity theft and fraud.

 ​BBB Tips on Identity Theft

BBB Scam Tracker​ ​

Federal Trade Commission

What to do when your info is stolen