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Many people who are careful about paying bills on time and having minimal debts are shocked each year to find that they have low credit scores.  In many cases, this happens as a result of identity theft.  Identity theft is a type of crime in which people take your personal information and steal that information to pose as you in order to get access to your accounts or identity.  This happens much more often than you might think.  According to a recent study, 15 million Americans had their identity stolen in 2021 alone.

For example, someone with your PIN numbers can remove small amounts of money from your bank account each month or someone can use your name and personal information to get credit cards in your name and use those credit cards with no intention of paying back the money.  You are stuck with the large debts and the poor credit score.

To prevent identity theft, always check your account statements carefully each month.  Report any suspicious activity or any charges you don’t recognize at once.  Also check your credit report regularly and immediately investigate any new credit accounts you do not recognize – this is the best way of detecting and acting on identity theft.

If you have been the victim of identity theft report it to the Federal Trade Commission at once and begin the process of recovering your identity.  Follow the plan that they provide, but also ensure that you reach out to each of your financial institutions (not just banks, but insurance companies and investment companies as well).  You should also change all of your passwords and PINs.  It is a good habit to do this on a regular basis anyway.