You’ve found out that your identity has been stolen. So what should you do now? In this brief guide you will find out some of the first steps you should take when you find out your identity has been stolen, tips for detecting identity theft, and resources to help you in this whole process.
First Steps to Take
The immediate actions you take are crucial to resolving identity theft. Acting quickly can stop the identity thief from potentially doing more damage. According to Consumer Information from the Federal Trade Commission, the first steps to take to repair identity theft are:
• Place an initial fraud alert
• Order your credit reports
• Create an identity theft report
Place a Fraud Alert
It is important to ask at least one of the three credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit report in order to make it hard for the identity thief to open more accounts in your name. The alert lasts 90 days but can be renewed, and is distributed between all three credit reporting companies. A fraud alert is free and must be accompanied with proof of identity. To place an initial fraud alert, simply call Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion at toll free numbers, report that you are an identity theft victim, ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit file, and confirm that the company will contact the other two companies. Make sure to update your files by requesting a free credit report, and keep track of any changes. Mark your calendar for 90 days, and renew it if necessary. Make sure to record the dates you made calls or sent letters, and keep copies of letters in your files.
Order Credit Reports
After placing an initial fraud alert, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. The company you choose to call should explain your rights and how you can receive a free copy of your credit report. Order the report and ask the company to show only the last four digits of your social security number on your report.
You can also contact related businesses if you know which accounts have been tampered with. Speak with someone in the fraud department, and make sure to follow up in written form. It is highly suggested to send the letters via certified mail and to ask for a return receipt. This creates a record of all communication.
Create an Identity Theft Report
An identity theft report gives you rights that can help in recovering from identity theft. To create a report, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then print your identity theft affidavit. Use this information to file a police report, and the combined information constitutes an identity theft report. The report can be used to get fraudulent information removed from your credit report, stop a company from collecting debts that result from identity theft or from selling the debt to another company for collection, place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, and get information from companies about accounts the identity thief opened or misused.
After following these crucial steps, you should be able to put a stop to the immediate damage done by the thief, and allow you to take the next steps in regaining your identity.
BYLINE: Indra Thomas is an avid financial buff who gets her smart money tips from Protect Your Bubble Identity Theft Protection Services.
Category: Identity Theft