5 Signs You Might Be a Victim of Identity Theft
- Stolen Drivers License
- Stolen Social SecuritySocial Security Number
- Bad Credit
Your license has critical identifying pieces of information like your DOB and home address. With it the identity theives can begin to collect more information or sell your license in the black market. Your stolen license can lead to impersonation, identity theft, and criminal identity theft.
Visit our Lost Drivers License Resource Page
The importance of protecting your social security number cannot be understated. Not only does it connect you to your credit report, but it references government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security benefits and much more.
Visit our Lost Social Security Resource Page
You begin to receive bills for credit accounts you never opened or your normal bills stop arriving. A common tactic used by identity theives is to change your mailing address to delay the detection of theft.
You begin to receive phone calls from debt collectors or letters for about accounts you never opened or purchases you never made.
Applications for new credit are rejected because of a poor credit rating although you pay your accounts on time.
What To Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Before You Being: Keep Detailed Records
According to the Privacy Rights Clearing House, the average time an identity theft victim spent to undo the damage was 40 hours in 2006. You will speak to various people, often at the same company. It is vital to keep accurate and detailed records as you work through this process, it won’t be simple or easy but if you follow our recommendations, it will help to resolve your case more quickly.
- Make sure you write down the name of everybody you talk to, their position, what they told you, and the date of the conversation.
- When mailing receipts or documents, do not mail originals and always use certified mail, return receipt requested, so you document what the company or organization received and when.
1. Immediately Place Fraud Alerts
Contact any one of the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and have them place a Fraud Alert on your credit file. This tells creditors to follow increased security procedures when issuing credit in your name. Any one of the CRAs will contact the other two. Fraud Alerts can be placed over the phone or online.
2. Order Free Credit Reports
After placing fraud alerts on your credit file, you are entitled to a free credit report from each CRA. Once you receive this report, review it carefully and look for inquires from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you did not open, and debts or balances you cannot explain. Also use this time to ensure the personal identifying information on this report is accurate like your name, address, and employers.
Reviewing your credit report is your first line of detection against possible fraud. Pay special attention to any negative items such as late payments or collection accounts. Remember to carefully review all three reports from Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. Different institutions report to different credit agencies so you want to ensure you cover all your bases.
If you don’t find anything unusual in your reports, be diligent and continue to review your reports periodically. Theft may have occurred but remain unreported. If you do find suspicious activity contact the affected accounts immediately. You may want to also consider how an identity theft protection company can assist you even after theft has occurred.
3. Contact Financial Institutions
Contact any accounts you may believe have been victimized and close those accounts. Make sure you speak with somebody in the fraud department of each company and follow the procedures for each regarding dispute forms and affidavits. Once again it is extremely important to keep detailed records of who you speak with and what was said.
Once you have resolved the identity theft dispute, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed accounts and discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best defense if these accounts continue to affect your credit file.
Proving You’re a Victim
Most companies will accept a police report or the FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit as proof that you have been victimized by Identity Theft.
Not all companies accept this declaration as proof however and you will then have to research and prove that you did not open the fraudulent accounts. Companies are required by law to provide you with copies of the fraudulent applications within 30 days of receipt of your request.
4. File a Police Report / Identity Theft Report
File a police report within your local jurisdiction and request a copy of that report. If the police are reluctant, file a “Miscellaneous Incidents” report or try another jurisdiction like your state police. In addition to this, it is important to file a complaint with the FTC. The FTC will forward this information to other governmental agencies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.
As in most endeavors, prevention is the best policy. Repairing the damage of identity theft is never something you want to do twice. Follow our tips to prevent identity theft on the right column and we highly recommend you enroll with a reputable identity protection service such as TrustedID,
Lifelock, IdentityGuard, or Equifax. In addition, you can read detailed reviews of each of those services on our site as well.
You can also view the comparison page to see which protection service is right for you. The plans are very affordable and can give you the peace of mind to know you are taking proactive steps to prevent identity theft from happening again.