Aside from lessons in morality and saving the Earth from evil, Superman illustrates the importance of one fundamental lesson that is often overlooked: protecting your identity. Since the majority of us cannot simply prevent thieves from stealing our identity by replacing our suit jackets and glasses with red capes and tight costumes – although we applaud you if you can – most of us have to rely on other preventative measures to protect against identity theft. Tracking bank and credit card statements, protecting personal information, and periodically requesting copies of credit reports provides for early detection, thus preventing identity theft and diminishing headaches further down the road.
Legitimize credit card charges by going through statements each month. If transactions you did not make appear on your credit card statement, you may be a victim of identity theft. Periodically request a copy of your credit report in order to determine whether or not anyone else has opened or used any accounts in your name. If you receive cards that you did not apply for, statements for unknown credit cards, or calls for the collection of a debt you don’t owe, don’t assume these are just simple mistakes. A thief may be using your personal information. Follow up on any inconsistencies to prevent identity theft and fraud.
Identity theft most often affects tax records when a thief reports wages using the taxpayer’s name, or social security number to obtain a fraudulent tax refund. In order to resolve identity theft issues regarding taxes, immediately file a Form FTB 3552, Identity Theft Affidavit. Be prepared to provide copies of your passport, driver license, Social Security card, police report, and IRS letter of determination (if applicable).
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, report the fraud to the police. Make sure to keep record of the police report. Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). More detailed information of who to report identity theft and how to do so can be found at the state’s Office of the Attorney General at http://www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/facts/victim-checklist.
So put on your superhero capes and protect yourself against identity theft.