Education Center

Reduce the risk of identity theft

What Happens If Your Identity is Stolen

In today’s digital world, identity theft is becoming a fact of life. You might think that identity theft will never happen to you, but it certainly can. Millions of people have fallen victim to identity theft, and find that their worlds have been turned upside down in the blink of an eye. That’s why using an identity monitoring service that includes both credit and non-credit monitoring, as well as identity restoration is so important. Here are some examples of what an identity theft victim goes through so that you can prepare yourself for the worst.

Why Credit Monitoring is Important

One common sign of identity theft is being denied credit, such as a new utility service, car loan, mortgage, personal loan, or even a student loan for a child. Suddenly, the victim is faced with a denial letter. This is especially confusing and frustrating if the individual always pay their bills on time.

In this case, the identity thief has used the victim’s personal information to obtain credit. Then, as any thief would do, they did not make the monthly payments for the credit that they took out under the victim’s name, and now the victim’s credit score has been damaged. Using a credit monitoring service can help alert you to changes in your credit file that may indicate identity theft. Knowing this information in advance may help you get a jump start on the resolution process.

Once that happens, identity theft victims have to take steps to report identity theft. It’s usually a lot of paperwork and takes a lot of time on the phone or sending faxes and emails. In some cases it can take longer than a year to get everything straightened out. Some identity monitoring services include identity recovery. Therefore, if an identity theft event happens, you can work with a knowledgeable, restoration specialist to resolve the issue.

Why Non-Credit Monitoring is Important

Obtaining credit fraudulently isn’t the only way identity thieves commit this crime. As we learned in one of our previous blog posts, there are many different types of identity theft. Take for instance, criminal identity theft. This happens when someone gives false information, like name, driver’s license or Social Security number, to police at the time they were arrested.

If this happens, you could be charged for an offense you didn’t commit. You may receive a notice to appear before a judge. You might receive a citation in the mail for an incident that you don’t remember. Don’t ignore these notices. It is likely that your identity has been stolen.

Services that monitor your personally identifiable information can alert you to possible fraudulent activity. Again, knowing this information in advance may help you avoid an identity theft event, or get a jump start on the resolution process.

So, What Else Can You Do?

In addition to using an identity monitoring service that includes both credit and non-credit monitoring, there are steps you can take on your own to help safeguard your identity elements:

  • Make sure that you are careful to never leave your wallet or purse unattended.
  • Do not carry your social security card with you. Instead, memorize your Social Security number. Keep your card in a safe place at home and only bring it out when you are required to for identification purposes.
  • Shred receipts, credit card offers, bank statements and any other sensitive information before throwing it away.

Visit our Identity Theft Education Center for more information on how to mitigate your risk of identity theft.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal issues or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Icons Representing Identity Theft Prevention

Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month: How to Prevent, Catch and Recover From Identity Theft

What to Know About Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month

In 2020, nearly 1.4 million identity theft claims were made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).


Child Safety and Protection Month: How to Keep Your Children Safe Online

November is Child Safety and Protection Month

Some child advocates and organizations use November to promote safety – from environmental toxins, harmful toys and other physical threats to children. 

Icons representing Cybersecurity. One is a shield with a shopping cart inside, another shows lines of text with toggles, & one shows a router.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). For 17, years the NCSAM campaign has engaged individuals, organizations, and businesses in cybersecurity awareness and safety by hosting events and providing free resources.


Join the thousands of
other Costco Members

Join Now!
  • Categories

  • *$8.99 per person per month for Executive Members or $13.99 per person per month for Gold Star and Business Members, plus sales tax where applicable. Service provided by Experian®.