How to Recover From an Identity Theft
Identity theft victims never know what to do when they first find out they were victimized. That’s why it’s not only important to know how to prevent these crimes, but also what to do if they cannot be stopped.
90) Make a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
You need to file a complaint with the FTC about your identity theft case. Go to the FTC Complaint Assistant and select the ‘Identity Theft’ option. From there, notify the FTC of whether someone already used your identity, if they tried to, if your information was compromised in a data breach, or if your purse or wallet was lost or stolen. They will walk you through the complaint process once you specify your identity theft situation.
91) Contact your local police department
Your next step is to submit a police report at your local police department. Make sure to bring the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit you receive from filing your FTC complaint. Provide any other evidence you can find, such as bank statements, fraudulent transaction recipients, and IP addresses used to access your compromised accounts. Remember, you can file a police report even if you just assume an identity theft was attempted. For example, you can show a debt collection letter as evidence of a potential identity theft if it was fraudulently put in your name.
92) Contact your bank and creditors
Whenever you have become the victim of identity theft, you need to contact all of the involved parties. For instance, if credit fraud was involved, you would need to call your credit card company to inform them of the crime. They might request the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit as proof of your claim. But, thankfully, the Fair Credit Billing Act states that you will not be held responsible for more than $50 of losses if you were victimized this way.
93) Place a fraud alert on your credit file
Once an identity thief strikes, they have the information on you that they need to continue doing so for years to come. As such, you should place a fraud alert on your credit file to prevent this from happening again. With a fraud alert in place, you will get notified if any new credit lines are opened in your name. This gives you the chance to verify the action, or declare it too as fraudulent. The fraud alert will last 90 days on your file, but it can be renewed at the end of that term.
94) Consider a full-on security freeze
You can perform a ‘security freeze’ on your credit file instead if you are confident that the attacker will strike again. This might come with a $10 cost, but that’s often wiped when you prove you were victimized by an identity thief. The security freeze will prevent any creditors from being able to pull your credit file without your authorized permission. You can decide whenever you want to take the freeze off your file, and it can be put back at any time. So to prevent identity theft freeze credit and do not lift the freeze until you know your identity is secure.
95) Inform the three credit bureaus
You need to let Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion know that you were the victim of identity theft. When doing this, you must also show them the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, your police report, and any other important information. From there, the credit bureaus will pay closer attention to what shows up on your credit report. Of course, you should still keep a close eye on what posts as you never know when the fraudster will strike again.
96) Do a security audit of yourself
The identity thief was able to compromise your information and use it fraudulently. There has to be a reason behind how they obtained the information in the first place. If you are unsure, the best place to start is your computer. Check for any malware, viruses, and compromised online accounts. For instance, websites like Facebook.com and Live.com allow you to see what IP addresses and devices have previously signed into your account. Clean out your computer, change your passwords, and do everything you can to make your identity more secure for the future.
97) Inform your service providers
Whether it’s the electricity company or your home phone service provider, it’s important that you let them know about the attack. This is because you do not want your service bills being used to fraudulently open new bank accounts and credit lines. As this paperwork serves as a ‘proof of residence’ it’s best to request it not to be mailed out to your current address. Unless you know the identity thief targeted you online, it’s fair to assume someone could be stealing your mail or rummaging your trash.
98) Phone the Office of the Inspector General
You must let the Office of the Inspector General know that your social security number was used in fraudulence. This makes it easier to detect if the identity thief attempted to defraud you of any type of benefits, your pension funds, and etc. You can also request a printout of your various statements to double check that all the numbers are still accurate.
99) Request replacement debit, credit and identification cards
You need to take the time to replace all your different cards. Of course, if you had LifeLock protection then you could just let them do all the dirty work. If not, just head into your branch when you first inform them of the issue and request a new debit card at the same time. Contact your credit card providers by phone and request new cards. Further, make sure to get a new driver’s license and to replace any other government issued photo ID as the thieves could already be using replicas of them.
100) Monitor your credit closely
From hereon you will be faced with a tough challenge. As an identity theft victim, your personal information is in the hands of someone who has attempted to benefit off defrauding you. This is something that will probably go on for many years to come. So, it’s a good idea to throw credit monitoring on top of your identity theft protection plan.
So, there you have it…to prevent identity theft tips like these are necessary to follow. None will guarantee that you will never become a victim, but at least a protection plan will take financial responsibility. It’s a cruel world, where even more than 1 in 10 children are being victimized by identity thieves. So, you need to do what you can to protect yourself, and applying some of the advice here will make for a pretty good start!
That said, there is no doubt that the low cost of identity theft protection makes it a worthwhile investment. It takes all the responsibility and liability away from you, meaning you don’t even have to worry about how to avoid identity theft on your own. So, if you are interested in identity theft protection, take a look below at the most trusted service providers around.