The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines identity theft as something that "occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes". They have estimated that about nine million people have their identities stolen each year - that's equal to roughly 4% of adults in the United States.  Unless you are vigilant about checking your credit card statement, or are contacted by a debt collector, you might not even know you are a victim of identity theft.

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Once your identity has been stolen, there are several ways for thieves to use it. To name a few, they can commit credit card fraud, bank or finance fraud, phone or utilities fraud, or government documents fraud. However, there are ways of preventing your identity from being stolen in the first place, as well as several approaches you can take to recover your information if it has already been stolen.

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