(KTVI)-- A St. Peters man is fighting to regain his identity. He says he has no clue how it was stolen because he`s always been so careful. But now he`ll have to spend months trying to get his name back.
Alan Davis says when he went to the mailbox a few weeks ago, he found a letter he wasn't expecting.
Mind you, you have to apply on line for Green Dot's debit card and you must include your social security number. Davis says he never heard of Green Dot.
Someone had filed a joint return using Davis' name and social security number along with the name of a man he did not know. Identity theft cost Americans $21 billion in 2012. And that figure will skyrocket by the end of 2014.
Sometimes the person who steals your personal information is sitting at a computer overseas. Other times they're right in your hometown. In the coming years Davis will always have to prove who he really is. Taxpayers like Davis may have to wait as long as 180 days before the IRS will process their return. And there's more.
The credit reporting agencies can put a fraud alert on your credit report. That forces a business to verify it is you who's applying for credit and not a con artist. The alert lasts for 90 days but it’s renewable. Clues that your identity may be in the wrong hands:
• Debt collectors call you about debts that aren`t yours.
• Unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
• Medical bill you for services you didn`t use.
• Health plan rejects legitimate medical claim because your benefit limit reached.
• Coverage denied because records show a condition you don`t have.
Identity theft is a growing trend. If it happens to you, the first call should be to your local police and then the Federal Trade Commission. All the steps we talked about can be explained by the folks at the FTC. Call us if you have consumer issues. The toll free number is 800-782-2222. The line is open Monday through Thursday between 11am and 1pm. We also have a link below for identity theft questions.