It’s much easier to do the small things to help prevent identity theft than it is to clean up the damage of having your identity stolen. However, even the most diligent among us can still fall prey to identity fraud. If you discover that your identity may have been stolen, do these 5 things immediately:
1. Freeze your credit cards or accounts where the fraud occurred
Contact the credit card company or institution where you’re experiencing fraudulent charges and have them freeze the account. This will effectively stop the bleeding and prevent any more damage from occurring. In order to begin safely using an account again, you may need to re-set PINs, request new cards, etc., but for now just focus on alerting your bank/creditor of the possible fraud.
2. Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports
A fraud alert means that the credit reporting agencies will take additional precautions when verifying your identity. You only need to request an alert at one of the credit reporting agencies (they will contact the other 2 for you):
3. File an Identity Theft Affidavit with the FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is tasked with fighting and preventing identity theft. They rely on people to report suspected identity theft, which you can do online or by calling 877-438-4338.
4. Contact police and file a report
Identity theft is a crime, and so you need to report it to the authorities. The main reason for doing this is to create a police report, which you will need when working with creditors and the credit reporting agencies to resolve all fraudulent charges.
5. Request your credit report
You need to obtain a copy of your credit report immediately. This helps you identify all possible fraudulent charges, and can let you know if there are any charges you were previously unaware of.
Repairing your credit after identity theft can be a lengthy process, but it will go much more smoothly if you have been proactive by following these 5 steps immediately after discovering the fraud.
To help prevent identity theft, it can be beneficial to sign up for a credit monitoring service. For more credit repair advice, visit our tips and tricks page, or call 855-620-5875 for a free credit consultation.