Millions of Americans fall prey to identity theft each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). When you get the frightening call or become aware that you are one of these victims, it’s important to spring into action quickly to correct the damage that’s been done and prevent further damage. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
The first set of phone calls you want to make is to each of the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Let the representatives know you are a victim of identity theft and ask them to freeze your credit report. Freezing your credit completely locks your credit profile, preventing anyone from accessing it or opening new credit accounts in your name. A credit freeze typically costs anywhere from $3 to $10, per credit bureau, however, in some states, it’s free if your identity has been compromised.
2. File a complaint with the FTC
Help prevent future identity fraud by filing a complaint with the FTC. The FTC uses these complaints to “detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions.”
[Free Resource: Check your free credit report and score]3. File a police report
Next, contact your local police department at the non-emergency telephone number. The police will provide you with a copy of the police report, which you will need to take further action in removing any fraudulent accounts from your credit reports or closing fraudulent accounts with creditors.
4. Contact your bank and creditors
Contact your bank and the creditors of any accounts affected by the identity theft first. Review your accounts carefully to point out any fraudulent transactions. Creditors may request that you submit a copy of the police report. Bank accounts that have been compromised are typically closed and a new account is opened. After you contact the creditors of any affected accounts, alert your other creditors so they can monitor your accounts for unusual activity.
5. Create an identity theft file
Create a file and name it “identity theft.” Keep copies of your police report, FTC complaint, important contact information and notes that pertain to the identity theft. File any correspondences you send or receive from the credit bureaus, creditors and companies involved with the identity theft investigation.
6. Contact the post office
Contact your local post office if the identity theft originated from stolen mail. To find the post office that delivers mail to your home, visit www.usps.gov.
7. Contact the Social Security Administration
Finally, contact the Social Security Administration to let them know about the identity theft as well.
Once you fall prey to identity thieves, it’s important that you act fast. Your actions can correct the damage and prevent additional fraudulent accounts or purchases from being made in your name.
If these steps seem daunting or costly, you may want to consider enlisting the help of an affordable identity theft protection service like the one at Quizzle.com to take care of everything in the event that your identity is stolen, as well as cover all your costs.
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