Identity theft is nothing to mess around with. It has ruined lives and driven people to do crazy things. In today’s world, information is being exchanged like never before. In one recent year more than 1 billion records containing personally identifiable Information were leaked. What’s even worse is that medical identity theft is on the rise, and even children are becoming victims.
This brings us to the question of “What do I do when I become the victim of identity theft?” There is a critical short period of time where quick action might just save you from losing everything.
1. Alert Bank and Creditors
First, if a bank account has been affected or a card stolen, cancel them immediately. This will help in preventing unauthorized charges. Even if you merely suspect you have become a victim, it is best you should alert your bank.
Second, you should proceed to change all of your account passwords. Yes, even those for that one account you rarely use. If it contains personal or valuable information, change it. You can never be too sure.
Next, you may report the crime to the police department in your city. Attaining a police report is very important, as it ensures that law enforcement will take action. Also, be sure to grab a copy of this as it may come in handy for the next step.
In addition, contacting the FTC will allow you to fill out the identity theft complaint and affidavit form. Print this out for your records as well. Combined with the police report, it will serve as your identity theft reporting records.
5. Fraud Alert
Contact one of the credit reporting agencies and request a fraud alert. This fraud alert will last 90 days, however, after filling out a police report and the FTC report your alert may be extended to 7 years.
6. Credit Freeze
This freeze will provide more protection, but will also restrict you in some ways. This prevents credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report to new creditors. Be prepared to pay a fee as most places require one.
7. Credit Reports
Also be sure to check your credit reports for any fraudulent activity. Be sure to look for account openings, inquiries you don’t recognize, strange payment history, an employer you never had, and wrong personal information. These are all signs of fraudulent activity.
8. Social Security Fraud Hotline
Additionally you should notify the Office of the Inspector General. If you learn that your social security number has been compromised as well, ask for a report of your personal earnings and benefit statement.
9. New drivers licence
Identity theft may also require you to change your driver’s license number. If the thief is using your ID, stop by the DMV and take care of this.
10. Telephone and utility
Finally, contact your telephone and utility companies in case the identity thief tries to open a new account with your information.