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11 Steps to Take If You’ve Been the Victim of Identity Theft

Concerned woman at home looking at laptop and holding credit card to illustrate steps to take if you've been the victim of identity theft.

It can happen to anyone at anytime. As we become more and more used to making purchases online, identity theft has become more common. Criminals have become more adept at stealing personal information to make unauthorized purchases among committing other crimes using another person’s identity.

But while having your identity stolen is stressful, it can be managed. Let’s look at what ID theft is, how to report identity theft, and what you can do to obtain the best identity theft protection.

What is Identity Theft?

To put it simply, identity theft is when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or other person information without your permission. The identity thief typically uses the stolen information to obtain a line of credit to use for unauthorized purchases, but in many cases the stolen identity can be used to acquire healthcare, get a drivers license, or obtain other benefits under your name.

If you see signs that your identity has compromised, you should report identity theft through the proper channels and take safeguards to increase your identity protection. If your identity has been stolen, please follow these steps in order to restore it properly.

1. Notify Your Bank and Creditors

If you notice some unauthorized purchases on your bank statement or credit card, the first thing you should do is call them and let them know as soon as possible. It varies from bank to bank, but in most cases, you won’t be liable for the unauthorized purchases if you act quickly. Contact your compromised financial institutions and have them freeze or close your affected accounts.

2. Put a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

Even if you are unsure if you’re a victim of identity fraud, you should still get a fraud alert placed on your credit report. Contact Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion credit report agencies and request a fraud alert. If you report identity theft to one agency, the other credit report agencies will follow suit. This freeze should provide some credit protection, but know that it will be more difficult to get approved for additional credit.

3. Report to the FTC and the Police

You should then contact the Federal Trade Commission and your local law enforcement. File an Identity Theft Affidavit along with a police report in order to combine them into an Identity Theft Report. The Identity Theft Report will help you when working with credit reporting agencies, banks, and other entities that the identity thief may have contacted to open accounts in your name. You can fill out your Identity Theft Affidavit online or call the FTC at 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338).

4. Change All the Passwords On All of Your Accounts

Any account that has a password may been compromised. Make a list of all the websites you visit that required any personal information and then go change the passwords for all of them. It is recommended that you create a unique password for each one that is a combination of different letters, numbers, and symbols. You should also change them every few months just in case.

5. Deliver Creditors a Copy of Your Identity Theft Report

While you have contacted your creditors to recommend a payment stoppage or a freeze, you should solidify your report by delivering each financial institution a copy of your Identity Theft Report that you obtained in step #3.

6. Report Social Security Fraud to the Office of the Inspector General

If you suspect that your Social Security number has been stolen, you should immediately contact the Social Security Fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or file a report online to the Office of the Inspector General. This will help keep them alert on whoever uses your Social Security number and they can provide guidance on any next steps you may need to take.

7. Obtain a New Drivers License

The identity thief could be using your drivers license number as a phony ID. Contact your local DMV in order to report your identity theft and obtain a new number from them.

8. Contact Your Telephone and Utility Companies

Your landline telephone and utility provider need to be contacted in case the identity thief attempted to open a new account under your name by using your bill as proof of residence.

9. Scan Statements For Unauthorized Charges

Double check all your bank statements over the last couple months to make sure there weren’t any additional unauthorized purchases that flew under your radar. Not only is there a chance for you to refute those charges, but it could also help establish a time frame of when and how long you identity was compromised.

10. Implement Tighter Security Measures

While you can recover from identity theft, it is better to have solid identity theft protection in the first place. Use complex passwords for all of your accounts and change them regularly. Don’t open any emails or attachments from sources you don’t know to prevent malware from collecting personal data in your computer. Fully shred bills, bank statements, and other sensitive documents before throwing them into the trash. It’s also a good idea to get identity theft insurance in order to better protect your assets. Studious prevention is the overall best protection against identity theft.

Now that you know the potential dangers of identity theft, it’s a good idea to get protection in case the worst happens. Freeway Insurance can offer you quality identity theft protection at an affordable rate. Give us a call or get a free identity theft insurance quote online today.

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