Unfortunately, with identity theft, most people don’t realize it is happening to them until it is too late. At that point it is all about damage control. If your identity has been stolen use these tips to help minimize the impact.
1. File fraud alert
This is a free service provided by credit bureaus. Simply file your alert with one bureau and they will notify the remaining bureaus of the alert. Filing a fraud alert will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name and help to minimize further damage.
- Equifax | www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance | 800.766.0008
- Experian | www.experian.com/fraud/center.html | 888.397.3742
- TransUnion | www.transunion.com/Fraud | 800.680.7289
2. Close all tampered or falsely opened accounts
Contact each company and ask to speak with the security or fraud department. Following up with a written letter and copies of supporting documents is a great best practice. Consider sending the letters as certified mail with a return receipt requested, so that you have confirmation that the company received your letter.
3. Freeze your credit
Freezing your credit is a great precaution to take until the storm passes. It will ensure that thieves cannot open new accounts in your name. Continue to monitor your current accounts as those will still be open. Contact your financial institution to learn about all the various ways you can monitor the account.
4. File an identity theft report
To complete this, you will need to file a report with your local law enforcement office. Be sure to get a copy of the report for your records. This will launch the investigation into the identity theft.
5. Contact the credit bureaus mentioned above and any necessary businesses to dispute charges
This part of the process can be long. You should also contact any lenders or collection agencies involved. Be sure to keep record of each call you make and continue to monitor your accounts.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.