When someone becomes a victim of identity theft, disbelief and panic typically gives way rapidly to frustration and anxiety. Even with the assistance of modern technology, identity theft recovery can be a long, slow, time-consuming process. Phone calls, mounds of paper work, identity theft affidavits, and potentially hiring an attorney to help clear what was once your good name.
For some, the identity theft recovery process takes years, and there have even been reports of identity theft victims still trying to recover decades after the fact. For example, a Los Angeles man who had his identity stolen 15 years ago is still dealing with issue after the identity thief recently resurfaced.
Those who were hit by identity theft as children are particularly vulnerable to longer identity theft recovery timeframes. Often, the damage isn’t detected until they’re older and applying for their first bank accounts or jobs.
Identity Theft Recovery Times
The timeframe for getting back on track depends on several factors, including:
- Your willingness to put in the time: According to SANS Institute, identity theft recovery takes an average of 6 months and 100 to 200 hours-worth of work. For those with limited time for phone calls, written correspondence, emails, police reports, follow-up replies and investigative work, those hours can stretch out over years.
- Your credit health: Someone with a perfect credit score and a spotless credit record will likely have an easier time “proving” that any financial deviations are fraud. But it’s estimated that only about 1.4 percent of consumers have a perfect credit score, and even then, it’s difficult to maintain. For the rest of us, recovery will take longer and require more proof.
- Your emotional resilience: For many, having their identities hijacked is just the start down a long and difficult road. Dealing with the cleanup can bring on feelings of depression, worry, anxiety and vulnerability. Even after recovering financially, it may take much longer to find peace of mind.
How to Take Action
If you do become a victim of identity theft and find yourself wondering what to do next, these tactics can shorten the amount of time it takes to recover:
- Act quickly: Putting the process off until later could result in considerable damage and risk. Take the immediate steps recommended by the FTC, such as placing a fraud alert on your accounts, ordering your credit report and creating an identity theft report.
- Keep detailed notes: Always jot down whom you’ve called or written to and keep all records in a single file, so you can access them easily.
Another way to shorten the recovery timeframe significantly is enrolling in a product like IdentityForce’s UltraSecure + Credit, which monitors your personal information and credit score 24/7, and notifies you quickly of any suspicious activity. If any damage does occur from an identity thief, IdentityForce will restore your good name quickly and efficiently, not for years to come.