Identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent every year. When a person finds out that they are a victim of this heinous crime, it can be a very stressful and scary time in their lives. Identity thieves can wreck a person’s credit history, cause financial ruin, make a mess of medical records, and sometimes make a person seem liable for a serious crime. It’s not a problem to take lightly.
When a person’s identity is stolen, it’s important to take action immediately to ward off any further problems they may cause. So, what can you do? Here are a few steps to take when you think your identity has been stolen:
- Notify your creditors and your bank. It’s important to stop the fraudulent activity as soon as possible. Call all your credit card companies and your bank and put a stop to any further transactions until you get your problem resolved.
- Issue a fraud alert for your credit report. If you contact just one of the three major credit reporting agencies, a fraud alert will be placed on all three reports. These alerts usually last 90 days.
- Check your credit reports thoroughly. If you place a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies, they will send you a free copy of your credit report. When you get that report, comb over every detail with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure that every account opened, every line of credit, and every credit card are ones that you personally opened. If you have any fraudulent activity on any account, contact that company immediately. Also make note of the unique account number on the report so you will have it to help with future communications about your identity theft. It’s important to check your credit report throughout the coming year as well to make sure any extra fraudulent activity doesn’t occur.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department. Fill out the FTC’s ID Theft Complaint Form from their website and print a copy to keep for yourself. Also contact your local police department as well as the police department where the ID theft happened, and fill out a police report on the crime. Give as much information as possible on these reports to help the investigators.
- Send your FTC ID Theft Report to your creditors and the credit reporting agencies. This will help them as they conduct their investigation and will help them ward off any further fraudulent activities.
- Change passwords. Change every account password you have online. Make it something difficult to guess, but easy for you to remember. Also, don’t use the same new password for every account.
- Contact the Social Security Office. You may need to solve some issues with your Social Security Number since you have been a victim of identity theft. Notify the Social Security Office and let them know about your situation, and they should be able to tell you the next step concerning your Social Security Number.
As you can see, identity theft is a serious situation, and recovering from it can seem like a daunting task. The minute you realize you have been a victim, it’s important to start these steps to recovery. They should get you on the right path to gain your life back.