My Identity Was Compromised – Now What?
According to the Javelin Identity Fraud Survey, there were 13.1 million victims of identity theft in 2015… and experts see that number continuing to grow each year.
We spend a lot of time talking about how you can protect yourself from identity thieves, but what if you are already a victim? The focus of this blog is all about steps you should take as soon as you suspect or confirm that your identity has been compromised.
- File a report with the police. Even if all you know if that someone has stolen your wallet or opened new accounts in your name, call the police’s non-emergency line and file a report. While your local police department may not directly investigate your case right away, it’s helpful to have a report to begin a paper trail.
- Call the Credit Bureaus. Phone each of the three bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) right away to report fraudulent activity in your name by an unauthorized person. You should also request a full credit report from each bureau so you can review each line for accuracy. Finally, you should request a credit freeze to stop any future accounts from being open in your name and without your consent.
- Contact your Creditors/Bank. Depending on the extent of fraud you identify from your credit report, you may want to request new debit/credit cards, PINs and change the passwords you use online to access your accounts.
- Keep a conversation log. Notate in one central file every phone call, email, letter and document you engage in while working to clear your good name. This makes for a quick reference in the event a document is misplaced or conversations are not properly recorded on your file.
- Clear out your wallet. Once you have a handle on fraudulent activity, you will naturally want to be more proactive about how you protect yourself in everyday activities … and what better place than to start with your wallet. Take a hard look at what you carry and determine what is required (e.g. a state-issued identification card) and what is not (e.g. Social Security card.) Store what you do not need every day in a safe or locked filing cabinet at home. Doing so will minimize any potential risks from a lost or stolen wallet.
- Invest in identity monitoring services. Hopefully there is not a next time, but if there is, you will be better protected if you invest in this type of service. For a monthly fee, services like EZShield Identity Restoration Pro offer dedicated support from certified Fraud Specialists who guide you through the process of dealing with fraudulent activity and restoring your identity to pre-fraud status.
For more tips and resources, read the Federal Trade Commission’s guide Taking Charge: What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen.