GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Having your identity stolen may affect your credit score and affect your chances of getting a new car or even buying a new home for you and your family. Close to 100 million Americans have their personal identifying information placed at risk and it's important for you to know how to protect yourself and what to do if someone steals your identity.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are three steps to repair identity theft.
One, place an initial fraud alert by calling one of the three credit reporting companies which are Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Ask for an initial fraud alert on your credit report, which is free to place.
Two, order a credit report. You're entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. Ask the company to only show the last four digits of your social on the report.
And three, create an identity theft report. This will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors and businesses that gave the identity theft credit or opened new accounts in your name.
Alfredo Acevedo, of Wells Fargo, says it can be difficult to know when your identity has been compromised.
“Most people find out when they're applying for new credit, applying for a new house, applying for a new car that's when they find out oh somebody messed around with their or their identity was stolen," said Acevedo.
Ruth McCrea of the Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program or SHIP says with all of the electronic information out there, it's important to be careful with how much personal information you give out.
“There is the potential out there for more fraud for people getting our records so we'll have to be more vigilant and be very careful what kind of information you give people," said McCrea.
Experts say a great way in protecting your identity is by shredding all of your important paper documents.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Office says the best practice is prevention when it comes to identity theft.
Wells Fargo currently has a program their customers can enroll in that monitors their credit.
In addition to identity theft, many seniors can encounter Medicare fraud. If you need help with any Medicare issues you can contact the SHIP program- located right here in Grand Junction.