Identity Theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. Unfortunately, Identity Theft is becoming more and more prevalent as we move to an information age where data is at our fingertips. Identity Theft is a serious crime that can wreak havoc on your finances, credit history, and reputation.
If you believe that you are a victim of Identity Theft, it’s crucial not to delay in taking the proper steps to alert key parties of any compromise of your personal information. Start the process of reporting Identity Theft with these 5 crucial steps.
Report Activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Contact the Federal Trade Commission hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) to speak with an Identity Theft counselor and create an Identity Theft report. You may also file a report online via the Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.consumer.ftc.gov.
File a Report with Local Police
Next, contact your local police department and file a report with proper authorities. Though it may seem like a trivial step, a police report may lend credibility to your case when dealing with creditors, who may require proof of criminal activity.
Contact Major Credit Bureaus
Next, request that the three main credit bureaus place a fraud alert in their credit files. This alert requires creditors to verify your identity before opening any new accounts in your name or changing any existing accounts. You only need to contact one bureau, which will notify the others. Credit bureaus must provide victims of identity theft a free copy of their credit report. You should request one from each bureau, as the information can differ. Review your credit reports carefully for fraudulent activity. If a fraud has occurred, notify the credit bureau and the companies where accounts were opened to report the fraud directly.
Once a dispute has been resolved, the credit bureaus you contacted will send you another copy of your credit report. Review the report carefully to make sure that all fraudulent activity has stopped and your file has been corrected.
For more information about the steps to take and for credit reports, contact:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742 www.experian.com
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 www.transunion.com
Contact other agencies as appropriate.
- US Postal Inspection Service: If you believe your mail has been stolen or redirected, notify your local post office. www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov
- Social Security Fraud Hotline: If you suspect someone is using your Social Security number for fraudulent purposes, call the hotline. 1-800-269-0271
- Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): If you believe someone is trying to get a driver’s license or identification card using your name and information, contact your local DMV. www.dmv.org
Contact Other Creditors
Contact other creditors, including credit card and phone companies, banks, and other lenders, to notify them of the possible Identity Theft. Close any accounts that have been breached and reopen them with new account numbers and passwords.
Carefully Review All Accounts
Since identity theft takes time to resolve, you should continue to review all charges and transactions appearing on your account statements and online. Further, reset all online passwords to extremely secure passwords that include numbers and letters, both uppercase and lowercase.
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