close online banking
Online Banking Sign-In

Rebuilding Your Credit after Identity Theft

Back to Blog Main
Sarah Nicholas

It only takes one breach to become a victim to identify theft. In fact, according to Lifelock, one in four people has experienced identity theft.

The good news? Despite many assumptions to the contrary, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), 2020 actually saw a 19% decrease in data breaches from 2019, resulting in a 66% decrease in the number of individuals impacted. Cybercriminal tactics are trending towards ransomware, since one ransomware attack can generate as much revenue in minutes as hundreds of individual identity theft attempts over months or even years.

Regardless of the statistics, when you are faced with identity theft, it can be a scary and uncertain time. The effects can take a toll on your credit, but recovery is possible.

Recovery is Possible

According to Lifelock, the average time it takes to fix an identity theft issue is seven hours, usually over the course of a day (most common) up to a month. In extreme cases, people may spend up to 1,200 hours over the course of a year or more resolving identity theft problems. Learn how to shorten your recovery time.

Below are things you can do to not only detect but recover from identity theft:

  1. Always be on the lookout for strange activity, like late payment notices, strange purchases and save any relevant records or statements.
  2. Contact the credit bureaus - ExperianEquifax or TransUnion - as soon as possible to:
    1. Place a fraud alert on your account.
    2. Request free credit reports to review them closely and identify fraudulent activity.
    3. Write letters to them listing each fraudulent charge and providing copies of any supporting documentation.
    4. Freeze your credit. This service is free.
  3. Contact the right financial institutions and close any fraudulent accounts. 
  4. File two reports:
    1. An Identity Theft Report through the Federal Trade Commission. Here’s the form.
    2. A police report with your local police station. Bring all of your supporting documentation, including your Identity Theft Report.

These steps should help you keep your recovery time short. If your case is more complicated, don’t give up. The ITRC has helped 16.7 million identity theft victims and is your best resource. You can also find many other helpful cybersecurity resources on our website. We also invite you to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter. 


Written by: Sarah Nicholas

Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education and animal rights and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.