Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information without permission to open new accounts, make purchases or get a tax refund. Identity theft can damage your finances, credit history and reputation.
Miami-Dade County is working with public and private organizations to prevent identity theft cases.
Tips to minimize your risk
Request an annual credit report. You can get one free report per year from each of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Stagger your requests over the year. Call 1-877-322-8228 or visit Annual Credit Report.
Beware other companies offering "free credit reports" as they may tack on fees for other services.
Thieves rely on your bank account, income, social security number, name, address, phone numbers and date of birth to commit fraud or theft. They can drain your finances, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, get medical treatment on your insurance plan and file a tax return in your name and get your refund.
Here are clues that someone may have stolen your information:
- Bank withdrawals you can’t explain.
- You stop getting your bills or other mail.
- Debt collectors call about debts that aren’t yours.
- Unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical bills for services you didn’t use, which may also affect your health plan coverage.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or you have income reported from an employer you don’t work for.
- You are notified of a data breach of your information.
If you believe you're a victim:
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred and ask them to close or freeze your accounts.
- Contact the credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your accounts and obtain your credit report:
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and submit an online complaint with them.
- File a local police report.
Your rights as a victim
If someone steals your identity, you have the right to:
- Create an identity theft report.
- Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report.
- Place a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit report.
- Get free copies of your credit report.
- Get fraudulent information removed (or "blocked") from your credit report.
- Dispute fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report.
- Stop creditors and debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts.
- Get copies of documents related to the identity theft.
- Stop a debt collector from contacting you.
Tax Identity Theft
This is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission in recent years. It happens when someone files a fraudulent tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund from the IRS. It also can happen when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return.
Tax identity thieves get your personal information in various ways:
- Someone goes through your trash or steals mail from your home or car.
- Imposters send phony emails that look like they’re from the IRS and ask for personal information or claim unpaid taxes are owed. Before you can investigate, you’re told to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the number — something no government agency would ask you to do.
- Employees at hospitals, nursing homes, banks and other businesses steal your information.
- Dishonest tax preparers misuse client information or pass it along to identity thieves.
If you receive a letter from the IRS indicating more than one tax return was filed in your name, or their records show you received wages from an unfamiliar employer, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 or read the Identity Theft Recovery Steps and report the crime.
If you owe, or think you owe, federal taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit their website. The IRS typically mails notices of unpaid taxes, and never by phone.
Reduce the chance of becoming a victim by:
- Filing your tax return early in the tax season, before thieves can.
- Use a secure internet connection to file electronically.
- Mail your tax return from the post office.
- Shred tax-related paperwork you no longer need.
- Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
- Know the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.
- Don’t give out your Social Security or Medicare number unless necessary. Ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used and how it will be stored.
- Get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
- If your Social Security Number has been compromised, call the IRS Identity Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490
Senior Identity Theft
Many identity crimes, crimes of deception and financial crimes are traditionally aimed at seniors as criminals believe they may be more susceptible to crimes of deception. In addition, the amount of money that can be stolen from seniors may exceed that of other segments of the population.
Help protect them by:
- Making sure their caregivers are trustworthy.
- Talking to them about common scams.
- Keeping an eye on their financial activity.
- Signing them up for identity theft protection.
Medical Identity Theft
Thieves commit health care fraud by stealing IDs to get treatments – even surgery – or bilk insurers by making fake claims. This could become a part of your medical record and affect your ability to get medical care, insurance benefits and future treatments. The scammer’s unpaid medical debts could also end up on your credit report.
Protect yourself with these measures:
- Read every Explanation of Benefits statement you get from your health insurer.
- Ask the health insurers you’ve been involved with for a list of the benefits they paid in your name at least once a year.
For more information, or to report medical identity theft, call 1-877-382-4357 (TTY: 1-866-653-4261).
Child Identity Theft
A child's Social Security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. Request a credit report to see if your child’s information is being misused. If it is, report it online.
- Learn more about child identity theft