There are many ways your identity can be stolen. Tax and wage related identity theft, financial identity theft, medical identity theft, child identity theft, driver’s license identity theft, and, of course, criminal identity theft. When you discover that your identity has been stolen it is natural to panic, but it is important to think clearly and immediately start fixing the problem.
Put A Fraud Alert On Your Credit Report
A fraud alert will put a red flag on your credit report and notifies all lenders and creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your credibility. In order to implement the red flag you need to contact one of the credit report agencies like Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. If you contact one agency, they will automatically contact the others. Once you start the fraud alert, you will receive a free copy of your credit report from each agency. You will need these to prove any fraudulent charges and start disputing the lines of credit.
You also have the option of placing a security freeze on each of your credit reports. A freeze will prevent creditors from accessing your credit report at all. All new applications will be declined without access to the file.
Contact Your Bank
If you know that your identity was stolen, you need to contact your bank and any other institution that is directly affected. This includes any credit card issuers you may have an account under.
File A Police Report
You will need to file an official police report. You will need a copy of the police report and the report number.
Contact The Federal Trade Commission
Next you will have to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There you will have to file an Identity Theft Affidavit. You will need your official police report information to do this. The FTC will assist you with what you need to do depending on what type of fraud took place.
Contact Social Security
If your social security number was compromised, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is important to contact both the SSA and the IRS because whoever stole your identity could potentially be waiting to swipe your tax refund or obtain employment or healthcare with your name.
Contact The Post Office
You will also need to contact the Postal Inspection Service to see if there was a request for a change of address. This will ensure whoever stole your identity isn’t also stealing your mail.
Change Logins, Passwords, and PINs
As soon as you know that someone has access to your personal information, you need to change all your logins, passwords, and PINs to keep them from continuing to access your personal accounts.
Close Accounts and Remove Charges
If any new accounts were opened in your name, make sure you close them. The Identity Theft Report you filed with the FTC will allow you to close any binding agreements that were opened. Ask the business to close the account and keep all paperwork and proof that this account was closed and you are not liable for it. Any fraudulent charges need to be removed from your account as well. Call each business and explain to them that someone stole your identity and explain which charges are fraudulent.
Correct Your Credit Report
Contact every credit report company with a copy of your Identity Theft Report as well as your driver’s license or state ID. Explain what you need removed from your credit report and it will be blocked by the credit companies.
If you ever think there is a chance that your personal information has been compromised or stolen, you need to act as soon as possible.