Identity Theft

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Identity Theft - What It Is & How To Avoid It PDF 

What To Do if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft PDF

There are many types of identity theft that may require different steps to protect yourself. For individualized support, please contact DRC and ask to complete an intake with one of our advocates. We may be able to help you come up with a recovery plan and provide you with the resources you need to take your next steps.

What is Identity Theft?         

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal identifying information to commit fraud.

Examples of personal identifying information:

- Your name

- Date of birth

- Social security number

- Driver’s license number

- Address

- Online logins/passwords

- Financial account numbers

- Passport number

- Tax identification number

Examples of records that may have personal identifying information on them: 

- Financial records

- Medical information

- Prescription information

- Child's school records

- Health insurance enrollment forms

- Health insurance cards

- Medicine bottles

- Billing statements

- Benefits statements

If you are a victim of identity theft, it could mean someone has used your identity to: 

- Make purchases

- Apply for credit cards

- Rent an apartment

- Obtain utilities

- Open bank accounts; apply for loans

- Receive medical services using your health insurance benefits

- Re-route or apply for your tax refund

- Create a criminal record in your name and not theirs

- Obtain employment

- Receive unemployment or other government benefits

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

1. Keep all records with identifying information in a safe and secure place.

2. If you decide to get rid of records, shred them first.

3. If you get rid of a computer or phone, make sure to first delete any personal information that may be saved on the device.

4. Do not share your information with someone who calls claiming to be with the IRS.

The IRS will not contact a taxpayer by email, text, or social media - do not respond to these messages, it is likely a scammer trying to steal your information. The IRS may notify you that someone else is using your SS number, by sending a notice in the mail.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If a doctor’s office or your child’s school asks for a social security number for identification, ask if they can use a different identifier, or ask to share just the last four digits of the SS number. If other organizations ask for your health insurance information, ask: Why do you need it? How will you protect it? Will you share it? Who will you share it with? Some other good questions you may want to raise include: Why do you need it? How will you protect it? Will you share it? Who will you share it with?

6. Protect your personal information online.

Avoid posting too much personal information on social media. If an identity thief has access to your personal information, they may use it to answer security questions on your accounts, like “what is my maiden name?” or “where was I born?”. Never post your full name, address, Social Security number, or bank account numbers on public sites. Keep your social media pages private, and only connect with people you know and trust. Keep your passwords private and only use strong passwords. Do not use the same password for multiple sites. Always logout of websites and avoid automatic login features.

7. Lookout for signs of child identity theft.

Someone under 18 will usually not have a credit report unless someone is using their information for fraud. Once your child turns 16, you can check to see if there is a credit report in their name. Some other signs of child identity theft - You are turned down for government benefits. You receive calls about bills in your child’s name. You receive a letter from the IRS about taxes your child owes. Your child’s student loan application is denied.


What To Do if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft

The most important thing to do is to ACT QUICKLY! The more time that passes, the more damage the identity thief can do and the harder it can become to recover any stolen money.

While there is no guarantee that you can recover the money that has been taken from you, taking the following steps may help you recover and protect yourself from identity theft in the future:

1. Report the identity theft.

Identity theft can be reported to your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you report on the FTC website, the FTC will provide you with a list of steps you can take to recover from the theft. Keep a copy of your reports and report numbers.

You should also report the identity theft to whoever is in control of the form of ID that was stolen. Some examples:

-Tax identity theft should be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

-Identity theft related to your stay in a nursing home or a long-term care facility should be reported to both the Kansas and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

-Social security number theft should be reported to the Social Security Office.

-Driver’s License theft should be reported to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and ask that you get a replacement license.

2. Notify the proper companies and agencies.

Tell them you need accounts closed and fraudulent transaction reversed. Make this notification in writing and send the written notification to the organization’s legal department, fraud department, and customer service department. If the identity thief opened up credit cards in your name or made payments from your accounts, contact the companies where the thief accessed these accounts. If the identity thief opened credit accounts or applied for jobs, contact these companies and notify them as well. Notify the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Ask them to place a fraud alert and a temporary freeze on your credit report to stop someone from opening accounts in your name.

3. Change your usernames and passwords on your online accounts.

If someone has accessed any of your online accounts (such as your online bank account, social media sites, television streaming service, retail store shopper’s account, etc.), change your usernames and passwords for these accounts. It is recommended that you periodically change your passwords for online accounts and that you have different passwords for different accounts. If you need to write down your login information to remember it, keep the information hidden in a place only you and someone you trust can access it.

5. Contact the Kansas Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. for credit counseling.

If you are unable to recover your stolen funds and you find yourself in debt or credit problems, Kansas Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. (HCCI) may be able to help you take steps to resolve these issues. Contact HCCI at 800-383-0217 or on their website at

6. Be aware of future re-victimization.

Unfortunately, once someone has fallen victim to identity theft, they can be vulnerable to future theft and scams. Such scams are referred to as “recovery scams,” and they claim they can help you recover the money you lost in a scam, so long as you pay upfront fees to help with the recovery process. These scammers may claim to be lawyers, government officials, or other types of advocates. Be wary of anyone who guarantees they can get your money back and never pay upfront fees to recover your lost funds. Continue to monitor your bills, online activity, and credit reports regularly. Act quickly if you notice any suspicious activity.

Other Resources

Identity Theft