You did everything you could to prevent having your identity and personal information stolen — and it still happened. That moment when you realize that you’ve become a victim of identity theft can be very defeating, and leave you feeling vulnerable and confused.
First of all, don’t beat yourself up. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that last year, about 17.6 million U.S. residents were victims of at least one incident of identity theft. It’s an epidemic, and criminals are evolving and testing new theft tactics all the time. It’s too much for any one person to stay on top of.
If you just had your identity stolen, and you are an IdentityForce customer, we can take care of everything for you. Just call us at 877-694-3367 and we’ll help you through it right now. If you are not a member of IdentityForce or another identity theft protection service, knowing how to report identity theft can be confusing. Here are some important things you can do to report this crime and take control of your identity:
- Get in touch with the company or companies where the fraud took place. When you call, be sure to speak to someone in the company’s fraud department and write down the name of the person you spoke with and when. Explain that your identity was stolen, your information was compromised, and you’ll need them to close or freeze your accounts. You should also detail which charges on your account were fraudulent and tell them that you will need them removed. Once they have removed the charges, ask them to send you a letter confirming the charges have been removed. If you access your accounts online, be sure to change all of your login information, just in case.
- Check your credit report and place a fraud alert on it. Contact one of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion — and report the identity theft to them. You should also ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. That one credit bureau is required to tell the other two companies. You should also request a copy of your credit report to see if there is any account activity that you do not recognize as your own. If you find fraudulent activity on your credit report, write to each of the three credit bureaus, explain that you’ve been the victim of identity theft, and ask them to remove that information from your report. Finally, as an additional level of security, we recommend that you request that they freeze your credit reports – this will stop lenders from being able to view your credit reports, which will prevent anyone from taking out a loan or opening lines of credit in your name.
- Report identity theft to the FTC and the police. By reporting identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department, you’re covering all your bases. If anyone tries to come after you to make you pay for the fraudulent charges, you can provide them with the details of your reports that show you’ve definitely been the victim of identity theft. These reports can also expedite the process of removing fraudulent activity from your credit report — include copies with your letter to the credit bureaus.
Recovering from identity theft can be a long and frustrating process — especially if you find the theft goes so much deeper than a stolen credit card number. Many people have to deal with misused social security numbers, tax-related identity theft, medical identity theft, and even the theft of their young child’s identity.
While it is unfortunate that identity theft is becoming more common, it also means that more companies and organizations have processes in place to help you and get things taken care of as quickly as possible. If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, don’t wait to take action — start the process of reporting the theft as soon as possible and protect everything you’ve worked so hard for.
Image courtesy of Flickr user GotCredit.