According to the FBI, identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S. Studies show that about 1 in 5 families in the U.S. has been a victim of identity theft. It can occur in a variety of ways, including, stealing your Social Security or credit card numbers and then changing the address on your bills, using your information to impersonate your and then rent or buy products, using your personal information in criminal acts. Worst of all, you don't even know you have become a victim of this federal crime until months later, when you are turned down unexpectedly for a loan, or get a call from a collection agency about an account you never opened, or worse yet, a call from the police about a crime you didn't commit. Suddenly you are a victim of identity theft. Once a thief has tampered with your information, it can take months to restore your credit rating. It can also cost you money. That is why it is important to protect yourself before you become a victim.
Seek assistance. Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) is a non-profit organization offering free or low-cost financial counseling to help families solve their financial problems. CCCS can help you analyze your situation and work with you to develop solutions. Currently there are more than 1200 CCC offices in the U.S. Call 1-800-388-2227 for the phone number of the office nearest you or visit their website: www.cccsatl.org.