Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What to do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft

Learning that you have been a victim of identity theft can be scary.  You are probably wondering what to do next and how to protect yourself in the future.

You should report the crime to the police.  Though law enforcement officers are often unable to help and admit that they only investigate a small percentage if ID theft cases, a police report may help convince creditors that someone has been using your ID.

You also want to fill out an ID Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit form.  You can find a secure copy online from a government website.  You can use this form when filing your police report and dealing with creditors and credit agencies.  Keep a copy of this (as well as any documents from police, credit reporting agencies, or other institutions) for you records.   Also keep a record of all phone calls, documentation, or deadlines that you encounter.   This information can be important in resolving the issue.

Report any unauthorized charges immediately and close any accounts that you believe are fraudulent or have been tampered with.  Depending on the company and the amount of the charge, you can sometimes get a provisional reimbursement immediately for the stolen money.  For larger amounts, bring a letter explaining the situation as well as your affidavit and police report.

Order a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus.  Check for accounts that you didn’t know about, inquiries from companies that you don’t know, or any other suspicious information.  This includes basic information like name and address.

Place a fraud alert on your credit report.  This informs credit agencies to notify you before opening new accounts in your name.  The alert lasts 90 days, but you should continue to monitor your credit report indefinitely.  You can try to remember to renew the fraud alert every 90 days. Use an identity theft monitoring service help you protect your identity.   These services monitor your credit report and public records and alert you to certain changes.

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