HOW TO FIND YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE

Are you struggling to discover your purpose? That may be because you feel isolated from other people. Here’s how you can overcome that.

 

Do you have a sense of purpose?

For decades, psychologists have studied how long-term, meaningful goals develop over the span of our lives. The goals that foster a sense of purpose are ones that can potentially change the lives of other people, like launching an organization, researching disease, or teaching kids to read.

Indeed, a sense of purpose appears to have evolved in humans so that we can accomplish big things together—which may be why it’s associated with better physical and mental health. Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species to survive.

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Many seem to believe that purpose arises from your special gifts and sets you apart from other people—but that’s only part of the truth. It also grows from our connection to others, which is why a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation. Once you find your path, you’ll almost certainly find others traveling along with you, hoping to reach the same destination—a community.

Here are six ways to overcome isolation and discover your purpose in life.

1. Read

Reading connects us to people we’ll never know, across time and space—an experience that research says is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose. (Note: “Meaning” and “purpose” are related but separate social-scientific constructs. Purpose is a part of meaning; meaning is a much broader concept that usually also includes value, efficacy, and self-worth.)

In a 2010 paper, for example, Leslie Francis studied a group of nearly 26,000 teenagers throughout England and Wales—and found that those who read the Bible more tended to have a stronger sense of purpose. Secular reading seems to make a difference, as well. In a survey of empirical studies, Raymond A. Mar and colleagues found a link between reading poetry and fiction and a sense of purpose among adolescents.

“Reading fiction might allow adolescents to reason about the whole lives of characters, giving them specific insight into an entire lifespan without having to have fully lived most of their own lives,” they suggest. By seeing purpose in the lives of other people, teens are more likely to see it in their own lives. In this sense, purpose is an act of the imagination.

Many people I interviewed for this article mentioned pivotal books or ideas they found in books.

The writing of historian W.E.B. Du Bois pushed social-justice activist Art McGee to embrace a specific vision of African-American identity and liberation. Journalist Michael Stoll found inspiration in the “social responsibility theory of journalism,” which he read about at Stanford University. “Basically, reporters and editors have not just the ability but also the duty to improve their community by being independent arbiters of problems that need solving,” he says. “It’s been my professional North Star ever since.” Spurred by this idea, Michael went on to launch an award-winning nonprofit news agency called The San Francisco Public Press.

So, if you’re feeling a crisis of purpose in your life, go to the bookstore or library or university. Find books that matter to you—and they might help you to see what matters in your own life.

2. Turn hurts into healing for others

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Of course, finding purpose is not just an intellectual pursuit; it’s something we need to feel. That’s why it can grow out of suffering, both our own and others’.

Kezia Willingham was raised in poverty in Corvallis, Oregon, her family riven by domestic violence. “No one at school intervened or helped or supported my mother, myself, or my brother when I was growing up poor, ashamed, and sure that my existence was a mistake,” she says. “I was running the streets, skipping school, having sex with strangers, and abusing every drug I could get my hands on.”

When she was 16, Kezia enrolled at an alternative high school that “led me to believe I had options and a path out of poverty.” She made her way to college and was especially “drawn to the kids with ‘issues’”—kids like the one she had once been. She says:

I want the kids out there who grew up like me, to know they have futures ahead of them. I want them to know they are smart, even if they may not meet state academic standards. I want them to know that they are just as good and valuable as any other human who happens to be born into more privileged circumstances. Because they are. And there are so damn many messages telling them otherwise.

Sometimes, another person’s pain can lead us to purpose. When Christopher Pepper was a senior in high school, a “trembling, tearful friend” told him that she had been raped by a classmate. “I comforted as well as I could, and left that conversation vowing that I would do something to keep this from happening to others,” says Christopher. He kept that promise by becoming a Peer Rape Educator in college—and then a sex educator in San Francisco public schools.

Why do people like Kezia and Christopher seem to find purpose in suffering—while others are crushed by it? Part of the answer, as we’ll see next, might have to do with the emotions and behaviors we cultivate in ourselves.

3. Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism

Certain emotions and behaviorsthat promote health and well-being can also foster a sense of purpose—specifically, awe, gratitude, and altruism.

Several studies conducted by the Greater Good Science Center’s Dacher Keltner have shown that the experience of awe makes usfeel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose.

Of course, awe all by itself won’t give you a purpose in life. It’s not enough to just feel like you’re a small part of something big; you also need to feel driven to make a positive impact on the world. That’s where gratitude and generosity come into play.

“It may seem counterintuitive to foster purpose by cultivating a grateful mindset, but it works,” writes psychologist Kendall Bronk, a leading expert on purpose. As research by William Damon, Robert Emmons, and others has found, children and adults who are able to count their blessings are much more likely to try to “contribute to the world beyond themselves.” This is probably because, if we can see how others make our world a better place, we’ll be more motivated to give something back.

Here we arrive at altruism. There’s little question, at this point, that helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. In one study, for example, Daryl Van Tongeren and colleagues found that people who engage in more altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or donating money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.

Interestingly, gratitude and altruism seem to work together to generate meaning and purpose. In a second experiment, the researchers randomly assigned some participants to write letters of gratitude—and those people later reported a stronger sense of purpose. More recent work by Christina Karns and colleagues found that altruism and gratitude are neurologically linked, activating the same reward circuits in the brain.

4. Listen to what other people appreciate about you

Giving thanks can help you find your purpose. But you can also find purpose in what people thank you for.

Like Kezia Willingham, Shawn Taylor had a tough childhood—and he was also drawn to working with kids who had severe behavioral problems. Unlike her, however, he often felt like the work was a dead-end. “I thought I sucked at my chosen profession,” he says. Then, one day, a girl he’d worked with five years before contacted him.

“She detailed how I helped to change her life,” says Shawn—and she asked him to walk her down the aisle when she got married. Shawn hadn’t even thought about her, in all that time. “Something clicked and I knew this was my path. No specifics, but youth work was my purpose.”

The artists, writers, and musicians I interviewed often described how appreciation from others fueled their work. Dani Burlison never lacked a sense of purpose, and she toiled for years as a writer and social-justice activist in Santa Rosa, California. But when wildfires swept through her community, Dani discovered that her strengths were needed in a new way: “I’ve found that my networking and emergency response skills have been really helpful to my community, my students, and to firefighters!”

Although there is no research that directly explores how being thanked might fuel a sense of purpose, we do know that gratitude strengthens relationships—and those are often the source of our purpose, as many of these stories suggest.

5. Find and build community

As we see in Dani’s case, we can often find our sense of purpose in the people around us.

Many people told me about finding purpose in family. In tandem with his reading, Art McGee found purpose—working for social and racial justice—in “love and respect for my hardworking father,” he says. “Working people like him deserved so much better.”

Environmental and social-justice organizer Jodi Sugerman-Brozan feels driven “to leave the world in a better place than I found it.” Becoming a mom “strengthened that purpose (it’s going to be their world, and their kids’ world),” she says. It “definitely influences how I parent (wanting to raise anti-racist, feminist, radical kids who will want to continue the fight and be leaders).”

Of course, our kids may not embrace our purpose. Amber Cantorna was raised by purpose-driven parents who were right-wing Christians. “My mom had us involved in stuff all the time, all within that conservative Christian bubble,” she says. This family and community fueled a strong sense of purpose in Amber: “To be a good Christian and role model. To be a blessing to other people.”

The trouble is that this underlying purpose involved making other people more like them. When she came out as a lesbian at age 27, Amber’s family and community swiftly and suddenly cast her out. This triggered a deep crisis of purpose—one that she resolved by finding a new faith community “that helped shape me and gave me a sense of belonging,” she says.

Often, the nobility of our purpose reflects the company we keep. The purpose that came from Amber’s parents was based on exclusion, as she discovered. There was no place—and no purpose—for her in that community once she embraced an identity they couldn’t accept. A new sense of purpose came with the new community and identity she helped to build, of gay and lesbian Christians.

If you’re having trouble remembering your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be? What impact do you see them having on the world? Is that impact a positive one? Can you join with them in making that impact? What do they need? Can you give it them?

If the answers to those questions don’t inspire you, then you might need to find a new community—and with that, a new purpose may come.

6. Tell your story

Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered? What strengths helped you to overcome them? How did other people help you? How did your strengths help make life better for others?Reading can help you find your purpose—but so can writing,

“We all have the ability to make a narrative out of our own lives,” says Emily Esfahani Smith, author of the 2017 book The Power of Meaning. “It gives us clarity on our own lives, how to understand ourselves, and gives us a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day and basically helps us make sense of our experiences.”

That’s why Amber Cantorna wrote her memoir, Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God. At first depressed after losing everyone she loved, Amber soon discovered new strengths in herself—and she is using her book to help build a nonprofit organization called Beyond to support gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians in their coming-out process.

One 2008 study found that those who see meaning and purpose in their lives are able to tell a story of change and growth, where they managed to overcome the obstacles they encountered. In other words, creating a narrative like Amber’s can help us to see our own strengths and how applying those strengths can make a difference in the world, which increases our sense of self-efficacy.

This is a valuable reflective process to all people, but Amber took it one step further, by publishing her autobiography and turning it into a tool for social change. Today, Amber’s purpose is to help people like her feel less alone.

“My sense of purpose has grown a lot with my desire to share my story—and the realization that so man.y other people have shared my journey.”

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HOW TO READ BODY LANGUAGE – REVEALING SECRETS YOU NEED TO KNOW

By Alex Santiago

Editor & Publisher

INFOGRAPHIC-BODY-LANGUAGE

Whether at the office or out with friends, the body language of the people around you speaks volumes. It has been suggested that body language constitutes more than 60% of what we communicate, so learning to read the nonverbal cues people send is a valuable skill. From eye behavior to the direction in which a person points his or her feet, body language reveals what a person is really thinking. Below are valuable tips to help you learn how to read body language and better understand the people you interact with. Read the full article to learn all 8 common body language cues.

Study the Eyes

Eyes Body LanguageEye behavior can be very telling. When communicating with someone, pay attention to whether he or she makes direct eye contact or looks away. Inability to make direct eye contact can indicate boredom, disinterest, or even deceit – especially when someone looks away and to the side. If a person looks down, on the other hand, it often indicates nervousness or submissiveness. Also, check for dilated pupils to determine if someone is responding favorably toward you. Pupils dilate when cognitive effort increases, so if someone is focused on someone or something they like, their pupils will automatically dilate. Pupil dilation can be difficult to detect, but under the right conditions you should be able to spot it. A person’s blinking rate can also speak volumes about what is going on internally. Blinking rate increases when people are thinking more or are stressed. In some cases, increased blinking rate indicates lying – especially when accompanied by touching the face (particularly the mouth and eyes). Glancing at something can suggest a desire for that thing. For example, if someone glances at the door this may indicate a desire to leave. Glancing at a person can indicate a desire to talk to him or her. When it comes to eye behavior, it is also suggested that looking upwards and to the right during conversation indicates a lie has been told, while looking upwards and to the left indicates the person is telling the truth. The reason for this is that people look up and to the right when when using their imagination to concoct a story, and look up and to the left when they are recalling an actual memory.

Gaze at the Face – Body Language Touching Mouth or Smiling

Face Body LanguageAlthough people are more likely to control their facial expression, you can still pick up on important nonverbal cues if you pay close attention. Pay particular attention to the mouth when trying to decipher nonverbal behavior. A simple smile body language attraction technique can be a powerful gesture. Smiling is an important nonverbal cue to watch for. There are different types of smiles, including genuine smiles and fake smiles. A genuine smile engages the whole face, whereas a fake smile only uses the mouth. A genuine smile suggests that the person is happy and enjoying the company of the people around him or her. A fake smile, on the other hand, is meant to convey pleasure or approval but suggests that the smiler is actually feeling something else. A “half-smile” is another common facial behavior that only engages one side of the mouth and indicates sarcasm or uncertainty. You may also notice a slight grimace that lasts less than a second before someone smiles. This typically suggests that the person is hiding his or her dissatisfaction behind a fake smile. Tight, pursed lips also indicate displeasure, while a relaxed mouth indicates a relaxed attitude and positive mood. Covering the mouth or touching the lips with the hands or fingers when speaking may be an indicator of lying.

Pay attention to proximity

Eyes Body LanguageProximity is the distance between you and the other person. Pay attention to how close someone stands or sits next to you to determine if they view you favorably. Standing or sitting in close proximity to someone is perhaps one of the best indicators of rapport. On the other hand, if someone backs up or moves away when you move in closer, this could be a sign that the connection is not mutual. You can tell a lot about the type of relationship two people have just by observing the proximity between them. Keep in mind that some cultures prefer less or more distance during interaction, so proximity is not always an accurate indicator of affinity with someone.

See if the other person is mirroring you

Mirroring Body LanguageMirroring involves mimicking the other person’s body language. When interacting with someone, check to see if the person mirrors your behavior. For example, if you are sitting at a table with someone and rest an elbow on the table, wait 10 seconds to see if the other person does the same. Another common mirroring gesture involves taking a sip of a drink at the same time. If someone mimics your body language, this is a very good sign that he or she is trying to establish a rapport with you. Try changing your body posture and see if the other person changes theirs similarly.

Eyes Body LanguageThe speed at which a person nods their head when you are speaking indicates their patience – or lack of. Slow nodding indicates that the person is interested in what you are saying and wants you to continue talking. Fast nodding indicates the person has heard enough and wants you to finish speaking or give him or her a turn to speak. Tilting the head sideways during conversation can be a sign of interest in what the other person is saying. Tilting the head backward can be a sign of suspicion or uncertainty. People also point with the head or face at people they are interested in or share an affinity with. In groups and meetings, you can tell who the people with power are based on how often people look at them. On the other hand the less-significant people are looked at less often.

Look at the other person’s feet

Eyes Body LanguageA part of the body where people often “leak” important nonverbal cues is the feet. The reason people unintentionally communicate nonverbal messages through their feet is because they are usually so focused on controlling their facial expressions and upper body positioning that important clues are revealed via the feet. When standing or sitting, a person will generally point their feet in the direction they want to go. So if you notice that someone’s feet are pointed in your direction, this can be a good indication that they have a favorable opinion of you. This applies to one-on-one interaction and group interaction. In fact, you can tell a lot about group dynamics just by studying the body language of people involved, particularly which way their feet are pointing. In addition, if someone appears to be engaged in conversation with you, but their feet are pointing in the direction of someone else, it’s likely he or she would rather talk to that person (regardless if the upper body cues suggest otherwise).

Watch for hand signals

Hands Body LanguageLike the feet, the hands leak important nonverbal cues when looking a body language. This is an important tip when reading body language so pay close attention to this next part. Observe body language hands in pockets when standing. Look for particular hand signals, such as the other person putting their hands in their pockets or hand on head. This can indicate anything from nervousness to outright deception. Unconscious pointing indicated by hand gestures can also speak volumes. When making hand gestures, a person will point in the general direction of the person they share an affinity with (this nonverbal cues is especially important to watch for during meetings and when interacting in groups). Supporting the head with the hand by resting an elbow on the table can indicate that the person is listening and is holding the head still in order to focus. Supporting the head with both elbows on the table, on the other hand can indicate boredom. When a person holds an object between him or her and the person they are interacting with, this serves as a barrier that is meant to block out the other person. For example, if two people are talking and one person holds a pad of paper in front of him or her, this is considered a blocking act in nonverbal communication.

Examine the position of the arms

Hands Body LanguageThink of a person’s arms as the doorway to the body and the self. If a person crosses their arms while interacting with you, it is usually seen as a defensive, blocking gesture. Crossed arms can also indicate anxiety, vulnerability, or a closed mind. If crossed arms are accompanied by a genuine smile and overall relaxed posture, then it can indicate a confident, relaxed attitude. When someone places their hands on their hips it is typically used to exert dominance and is used by men more often than women. The above tips can give you insight into the true motives behind people’s behavior, but it is not foolproof. When analyzing body language, keep in mind that these techniques will not apply to all people 100% of the time. Certain factors such as culture and a person’s general body language habits must be taken into consideration to accurately decode nonverbal cues.Become a confident, articulate, and effective communicator by earning a degree at Fremont College.

11 MAJOR SIGNS OF JEALOUS & INSECURE PEOPLE

11 Major Sings Of Jealous & Insecure People

  • Post Author: Ahmed Faraz Khan
  • Post published: January 9, 2020
  • Post Category: Wisdom & Insights

“A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.”

Robert A. Heinlein

Jealousy is usually very easy to spot. You just notice the weird vibe someone is giving off and know when someone is jealous of you.

But sometimes, it can be a bit difficult to spot especially when someone is hiding their envy behind a friendly mask.

They might portray themselves as well-wishers but internally they feel more content to see you fall than to see you rise.

In that case, it becomes important to spot the hidden emotions of jealousy so that you can protect yourself from their negative influence.

In this quick guide, we’ll look at the 11 major signs of jealous people. For the sake of keeping things organized and to the point, I’ve written a separate, much detailed guide on how exactly to deal with jealous and envious people, in which we will take an in-depth look into thepsychology of jealousy, andhow to handle such uncomfortable interactions effectively.

You can check out that guide after this article. I’ll leave the link at the bottom.

One thing to keep in mind as we look into these 11 signs is that the purpose of this is awareness, not to pass harsh judgment towards someone or to say that every single jealous person would have the same characteristics.

There are varying degrees of jealousy and envy, ranging from someone who is an overall good-natured person feeling a bit insecure, to someone who holds animosity, grudge, and hate.

1. They Indirectly Cut You Off & Change The Topic

One of the very subtle signs of jealousy is to cut people off when they try to talk about their achievements and success, or just plainly ignore what is being said and move on with another topic of conversation.

Listening to someone talk about their achievements can trigger a jealous person’s insecurities and remind them of their own inadequacies. Things that they were not able to do.

Essentially, they are cutting you off or changing the topic not to escape the conversation. They are doing this to escape themselves.

Since listening about other’s success reminds them of their own weaknesses or failures, it produces inner discomfort to the point that the can’t bear to even listen to the other person.

Instead of being happy and curious about the other person’s success, their thoughts are directed towards their own shortcomings.

2. Show Fake Appreciation

Some people are good at hiding their emotions. They might apparently show appreciation and excitement, but you can see that something is off with them.

Their expressions don’t seem genuine and their words don’t match their body language. They might show fake appreciation in a gathering where other people are congratulating you for your achievements because they don’t want to be the odd one out.

3. Talk Behind Your Back

As soon as you leave the gathering, the one who showed fake appreciation in front of you, starts to talk behind your back and discuss your flaws and weaknesses with other people.  You only get to know this later on through someone who heard their gossip about you.

As a precaution, if you find someone who always talks behind people’s back, but when they are in the presence of those same people, they portray themselves as well-wishers and act “nice” and “sweet”, then keep a distance from them.

There’s a good chance they might talk behind your back as well. It’s nothing to do with you. It’s just their habit, and they do it to most people they encounter.

4. Say Subtle Passive-Aggressive & Toxic Comments

Since jealous people can’t show their inner animosity and jealousy directly, they often resort to passing indirect, passive-aggressive comments while having a smile on their face.

Indirectly expressing their emotions in such toxic ways can temporarily act as a catharsis for them. Since they are bottling up so much negativity within themselves, they have to let it out somehow.

However, this habit of passing passive-aggressive and cunning comments comes at a cost of shallow, unstable relations with people and loss of trustworthiness. It’s almost impossible to make deeply rich relations without genuinity and sincerity.

5. Boast About Their Own Achievements & Successes

If someone always starts boasting about their own successes and worth whenever they hear about other people’s achievements, they probably have personal insecurities about their worth and value.

Upon hearing about other people’s qualities and success, they subconsciously feel as if their own worth is being threatened by someone who could be better than them.

In their minds, they must always remain on top and be better than most people to be able to feel good about themselves and be satisfied with their worth. They believe as if their experiences, knowledge, and achievements are superior to everyone else’s.

6. They Try To Take Some Credit In Your Success

There are some people who will show appreciation towards your progress, but at the same time, they’ll try to get some credit for themselves. They’ll portray as if they played a major role in your success and accomplishment.

They’ll tell you things like:

“I told you, this is the way to go.”

“I always knew you would make it.”

“I remember the time when you came to me for XYZ favor.”

Now, such statements can also be made my genuinely caring people who really believe in you and care for you, those who really are your well-wishers. So don’t get it mixed up with them.

You’ll know intuitively who is being genuine and who’s not.

7. They Might Ask You Uncomfortable, Scrutinizing Questions

There is a difference between asking about a person’s accomplishments, and scrutinizing them. Both have very different undertones to it.

Initially, you might feel as if the person is genuinely curious to know about your experiences. But as the conversation progresses, your excitement to tell about yourself turns into an uncomfortable interaction, by the end of which you might feel a bit ungrounded or even have doubts about yourself because of their scrutinizing questions.

The whole point of asking such scrutinizing and uncomfortable questions is to shake the other person’s confidence. Jealous people can’t stand to see self-assured, confident people.

8. Try To Compete With You And Do Whatever You Are Doing

Some people don’t show any apparent expressions of jealousy when you meet them in person. But behind the scenes, they keep an eye on your progress and try to compete with you.

You might see them doing similar things soon after you’ve done it.

They’ll buy similar material things just a few days after you’ve posted it on your social media.

They’ll get into similar courses and programs as you did to excel in your profession.

They might even take the same professional route as you did and take the same initiative as you.

9. Undermine Your Progress & Achievements

Downplaying is the cheapest and most obvious trick a jealous person could play.

As soon as you tell them something good about yourself, or even if someone else mentions something good about you, they’ll immediately give a cunning expression and say something negative.

To downplay your success and good qualities, they might pin-point certain flaws and weaknesses or they might just compare you with someone who is doing much better than you.

They usually dismiss the other person’s success by calling it:

  • “Luck”
  • “Temporary success”
  • “Will not go too far”
  • “Too young to know about real success”
  • “Too young to know what life is really about”
  • “Privileged”
  • “Unfair advantage”

Etc, etc.

10. Try To Demotivate You

When you share your future plans, intentions, and the initiative you wish to take with a jealous person, they’ll usually try to demotivate you by showing you the negative side of things.

They’ll tell you:

  • “How hard it is to do that”
  • “That’s not for everybody”
  • “I too had the opportunity, but I chose not to do it”
  • “That’s just wishful thinking, practical life is different”
  • “You don’t have enough knowledge or skill to succeed in that”
  • “That will require you to have lots of resources to be able to start”
  • “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
  • “Why don’t you do XYZ instead?

Jealousy is the jaundice of the soul.

John Dryden

11. Worst Case Scenario – They Try To Take Your Down & Off Your Track

The worst and most severe case of jealousy is when the jealous person tries his best to get the other person off their track. They’ll go the extra mile and put in a lot of effort to bring someone down.

This is sociopathic behavior. Someone who poses to be an enemy and a potential threat to someone’s progress, success, and happiness.

In such cases, it is crucial to keep a lot of distance from such people and involve someone in this scenario who is sincerely a well-wisher and that can help against the jealous person’s devious plans

RECOVERING FROM IDENTITY THEFT

What is identity theft?

By Alex Santiago

Identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. They could use your:

  • name and address
  • credit card or bank account numbers
  • Social Security number
  • phone or utility account numbers
  • medical insurance numbers

How will I know if my identity was stolen?

Here are ways you can tell that someone is using your information:

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you cannot explain.
  • You find credit card charges that you didn’t make.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says someone used your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job.
  • You do not get your bills or other mail.
  • You get bills for utilities or medical services you did not use.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that are not yours.
  • You find strange accounts or charges on your credit report.

What is IdentityTheft.gov?

IdentityTheft.gov is a website that helps you recover from identity theft. You:

  • answer questions about what happened to you
  • put in your name, address, and other information
  • get your Identity Theft Report
  • get a recovery plan created just for you

You also can create an account. The account helps you through the recovery steps and tracks your progress.

What is an Identity Theft Report?

An Identity Theft Report helps you fix your bills and your credit report. Your Identity Theft Report tells your creditors that you should not have to pay for what the identity thief spent.

You get an Identity Theft Report when you report a problem to IdentityTheft.gov. This is your statement about what happened. It lists what accounts are not yours and what charges you did not make.

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists:

  • your name, address, and Social Security number
  • your credit cards
  • your loans
  • how much money you owe
  • if you pay your bills on time or late

Who creates my credit report?

A credit bureau creates your credit report. The credit bureau gathers information about you and your credit history.

There are three main credit bureaus:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • Transunion

What is a fraud alert?

A fraud alert tells businesses that they must contact you before they give someone credit in your name. You put a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert makes it hard for someone else to open new accounts in your name.

There are a few kinds of fraud alerts. They are all free:

  • Initial fraud alert – lasts for one year. Use this if you thinksomeone stole your identity.
  • Extended fraud alert – lasts for seven years. Use this if you knowsomeone stole your identity.
  • Active duty alert – lasts up to one year. Use this if you are in the military and deployed.

What do I do when someone steals my identity?

It is very important to act fast.

First, call the companies where you know fraud happened.

  • Explain that someone stole your identity.
  • Ask them to close or freeze your accounts.
  • Then change your password or personal identification number (PIN).

Then visit IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338.

  • Report the crime and get a recovery plan that’s just for you.
  • You can create an account. The account helps you with the recovery steps and tracks your progress.

For Example

Why is it important to act so fast?

If you wait, the identity thief has more time to cheat you. That means there are more problems to fix. Acting fast means there should be fewer problems to fix.

Why should I use IdentityTheft.gov?

IdentityTheft.gov helps you fix problems related to identity theft, like these:

  • mistakes on your credit report
  • accounts that are not yours
  • mistakes on your bills
  • getting extended fraud alerts

IdentityTheft.gov also gives you a recovery plan just for you.

What comes first in my recovery plan?

The first step of your recovery plan is to call the credit bureaus. Ask the credit bureau for an initial fraud alert. It is free and lasts for 90 days. The fraud alert makes it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name.

The next step is to ask all three credit bureaus for a credit report. If someone stole your identity, your credit report is free. Look at your credit report for things you do not recognize.

How do I fix mistakes on my credit report?

Send a letter to the credit bureau to fix mistakes on your credit report. IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters that are filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the credit bureau.

How do I fix mistakes on my bills?

You might find mistakes when you read your bills. There might be charges you do not recognize. You can send a letter to the company that has the mistakes. Ask the company to fix those mistakes.

IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the company. Use the address the company gives for disputes.

Then change your password and PIN with the company that has the mistakes on your bills.

How do I close an account that is not mine?

Your credit report might list accounts that you did not open. You can send a letter to the business that has the account. Ask them to close the account.

IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters that are filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the business. Send a copy of your Identity Theft Report with the letter.

A business might ask you to use a form to close an account. If they do, send that form.

What happens when my initial fraud alert expires?

You can put an extended fraud alert on your credit report. An extended fraud alert is good for seven years.

IdentityTheft.gov helps you place the alert. Contact each credit bureau to ask for an extended fraud alert. You might have to give them a copy of your Identity Theft Report.

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