In this day and age, identity theft is no longer something heard about on the evening news. Most people either know someone who has had a credit card fraudulently opened in their name or their social security number compromised. Identity theft is everywhere and it can happen to anyone.
Below you will find a set of steps that you should take if you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft.
Steps to take if you are experiencing Identity Theft:
- Report the crime to the police
- We also recommend asking the police taking a theft report to run a criminal background check in case criminals have used the client’s identity when being booked for their crimes.
- Report the identity theft to the fraud department of one of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) as soon as possible – one must notify the other two agencies.
- Request and review a copy of your credit report for accuracy. Make sure to request that only the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN) be used on the report.
- Close any accounts that have been compromised or have been opened fraudulently.
- Inform the credit reporting agencies and credit issuers of any fraudulent accounts and incorrect information.
- Obtain new credit cards and destroy the old ones.
- Alert anyone who has received your credit report in the past six months of any disputed, fraudulent, or incorrect information.
- Have an extended, seven-year fraud alert placed on your credit report.
- Report the identity theft to the FTC’s identity theft hotline (877-438-4338), the IRS (800-908-4490 ; make sure to file Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit), and the state’s tax agency.
- Contact your local postal inspector (in case of mail fraud).
- Check your Social Security earnings record to make sure no one is using your SSN.
- Contact your health insurance carrier if your insurance card was accessed or stolen.
- Contact utilities to ensure no new accounts have been opened in your name.
- Tell debt collectors you are a victim of fraud.
- Create an identity theft file and keep copies of everything.
- Change all passwords.
Steps to take to prevent future identity theft:
- Check credit scores regularly; some credit card companies provide this as part of their monthly statement.
- Invest with companies that voluntarily adopt online fraud policies that promise to reimburse assets stolen in unauthorized online transactions.
While there is no guarantee that the above steps will protect you from identity theft, we hope that it will give you a better understanding of what to look for and how to better protect yourself.
Useful Websites for Identity Theft Victims...