If you've made all the right moves to keep your personal information safe and someone is still skilled enough to steal your identity, don't panic. Panicking is the last thing you need to do when something like this happens. You need to take immediate action to restore your good name.
As soon as identity theft is identified, you need to take the following steps:
- Fraud Alerts. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review the reports in detail. Placing a fraud alert on your credit reports will stop the thief from easily opening additional accounts in your name. You only have to call one of the three companies to place a fraud alert and that should be sufficient (I would still call all 3 just to be sure). Experian can be reached at 888-Experian, Equifax can be reached at 800-525-6285 and TransUnion can be reached at 800-680-7289. Once you place a fraud alert, you are entitled to free credit reports from the credit reporting bureaus.
- Close Accounts. Any new accounts that have been opened in your name without your permission need to be closed as soon as possible. Call the fraud department of the creditor and advise them of the situation. Followup in writing via certified mail. Keep track of every letter you send and every call you make. Use the theft affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- Police Report. Make sure you file a police report with your local agency. Identity theft is a crime and needs to be handled as such.
- FTC. Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report will help the law enforcement officials across the country with their investigation.
Thankfully, I've never been a victim of identity theft and by using the information presented in this three part series, I hope to never be a victim.
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