Identity theft is an unfortunate reality that can happen to anyone. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you know how difficult it is to recover from such an incident. Identity theft can affect your finances and credit score, as well as your peace of mind. There are a number of steps you can take to make the process easier on yourself. This guide will walk you through some of the most important steps to take if your identity has been stolen.
The first step to take if your identity has been stolen is to freeze your credit. A freeze will protect you from thieves trying to open credit cards or loans in your name, and it can be lifted at any time if you need to apply for a loan or want to purchase something. One good thing about a freeze is that it doesn’t cost anything and it typically takes less than 30 seconds to complete the process online.
By freezing your credit report, you can decrease the chance that someone will be able to open fraudulent accounts in your name because they would need to know your personal identification number (PIN) and request a password from a designated company. If someone does try to open an account in your name without having this information, they’ll be unsuccessful and won’t be able to steal any of your hard-earned money.
File a report with the police and contact the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The police will be able to help you get your identity back. If the perpetrator has already used your personal information, the police will help you get that information removed from the system. You’ll need to provide:
- The details of what happened
- The dates and times that the fraud took place
- Your Social Security number, address, phone number, and other contact information
This will also help your case to become more urgent with law enforcement officials.
You’ll need to monitor your bank statements and review your credit reports regularly. It’s important that you monitor your accounts frequently because thieves could try to access them even after they’ve been frozen.
Get copies of your credit reports. This will provide you with a detailed overview of the fraudulent accounts that have been opened in your name. You can dispute any fraudulent accounts that were not authorized by you and then monitor your credit score for any new changes.
As soon as you realize your identity has been stolen, it’s important to contact all of your financial institutions. This includes banks, credit cards, and other lending institutions. You’ll want to have these companies freeze your accounts so that any fraudulent purchases are declined before they’re completed. This will help to protect you from losing any more money because of the theft.
It’s also important to contact the credit bureaus to initiate a fraud alert or credit freeze. The fraud alert or credit freeze will prohibit new lines of credit from being opened without your permission until the matter is resolved. Your creditors can still access your accounts for billing purposes, but they won’t be able to open up new lines without contacting you first.
You should also update passwords and PIN numbers on all accounts, as well as ask any service providers if they offer free identity protection services like fraud alerts and monitoring.
A lawyer can help you file a police report and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). When finding a reputable lawyer, it’s important to read reviews and see the type of rapport they carry. Make sure that you don’t provide any personal information over the phone or via email if it’s not necessary. If there is an emergency and you need to give out sensitive information, make sure that you’re talking to someone who has verified their identity first. The last thing you want is for your private information to be compromised even further by providing it unnecessarily.