Things to Do if Your Identity is Stolen
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, taking these immediate steps will help you clear your name and your credit.
1. Notify affected creditors or bank
Shut down the account as fast as possible.
Most credit card companies have zero-liability policies.
ATM and debit cards are different:
“ATM or debit cards and electronic transfers from your bank account fall under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Under this act, consumers have to move fast. Reporting a lost or stolen ATM or debit card before any fraudulent transactions means the victim is off the hook for any that happen afterward. But if purchases or withdrawals are made, consumers have a small window of two business days after you realize the loss has occurred to report the unauthorized charges or transfers and get a $50 liability limit. After that, there is a $500 liability limit for up to 60 days after the statement reflecting the fraud is mailed. After 60 days, consumers are exposed to unlimited liability.”
2. Put a fraud alert on your credit report
Equifax: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241, 1-800-685-1111
Experian: P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-0949, 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
TransUnion – P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022, 1-800-916-8800
Contacting any one of the three major credit reporting agencies and requesting a fraud alert will put the fraud alert on all three of your credit files, says Steven Katz, former director of consumer education for TransUnion’s TrueCredit.com.
A fraud alert lasts 90 days. After you’ve filed a police report or filled out the ID theft complaint form from the Federal Trade Commission, you can put an extended fraud alert on your credit. The alert stays in effect for seven years.
3. Check your credit reports
Check your reports for signs of fraud — new accounts you didn’t open, hard inquiries you don’t recognize, payment history you can’t account for, an employer you never worked for and personal information unfamiliar to you. Pull each of your credit reports at least once over the course of the next year to check for fraudulent activity. Use an identity theft report to get fraudulent information removed from your reports.
4. Consider putting a credit freeze on your reports
A credit freeze will completely lock down all your credit information and prevents the credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report to new creditors. Depending on where you live, there may be a cost to do this.
5. Contact the FTC
Contact the FTC at 1 (877) 438-4338. The FTC monitor identity theft crimes in the hopes of discovering patterns and breaking up larger rings.
Important – Complete and file the ID theft complaint and affidavit form on the FTC’s website (print for your records.) Together with a police report, it serves as your ID theft report, which will help you dispute fraudulent accounts.
6. Go to the police
File a police report in your city and the city in which the crime was committed.
7. Send creditors a copy of your ID theft report
Be sure to notify creditors in writing that you have been a victim of fraud and include a copy of your ID theft report.
Obtain from affected creditors copies of the documents showing fraudulent transactions. Share this information with the police.
8. Contact credit reporting agencies
Be on the lookout! By sending a copy of your ID theft report to the consumer reporting agencies, fraudulent accounts should be blocked from appearing on your credit report. Review your credit reports often.
9. Change all account passwords
If it helps, use a password management service/program.
10. Contact the Social Security fraud hotline –
11. Get a new driver’s license
In many cases, you use this for identification. Get a new one! Note that you may be required to bring several forms verifying your identity (birth certificate, utility bills, Social Security card, etc.)
12. Contact your telephone and utility companies
They need to be alerted in case an identity thief tries to open a new account in your name, using a utility bill as proof of residence.
Additional measures to help prevent identity theft in the future:
- Create strong computer/internet passwords and regularly changing them.
- Shred documents
- Keep personal information such as your address and phone number off social media sites, as well as any details you use for online security questions like your mother’s maiden name.
- Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
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The above is a summarized except from www.bankrate.com