My identity was stolen! What can I do to stop the damage from spreading, and how do I fix what was broken? If this sounds like you, this article is where you need to start.
Are you a victim of identity theft? If so, you are not alone. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, there were 16.7 million victims of fraud in the United States in 2017, up from 12.6 million in 2012.
Those are concerning numbers, especially because identity theft and fraud can be so difficult to combat.
Difficult but not impossible.
If your identity was stolen, take these critical steps right now to stop the damage and start rebuilding your life.
Know the Warning Signs
Before you can fight identity theft, you have to know what it looks like. With the right knowledge, you can prevent significant damage from happening, and that’s the simplest way to keep ID theft from destroying your credit.
Be on the lookout for these signs of identity theft:
- Strange or unauthorized purchases from an existing bank or credit account
- Past due notices for loans or credit cards you did not open
- Calls from debt collectors
- Loss of service for your phone or another utility
- Bounced checks and declined debit transactions
If you notice any of these signs, do not wait to spring into action.
Notify the Credit Reporting Bureaus
Contact one of the credit reporting bureaus—Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion—and place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert lasts for 90 days, during which time lenders are required to verify your identity before approving new loans or lines of credit.
When you notify one of these bureaus, they are required to share that information with the others, so you only need to contact one of them.
If necessary, you can also freeze your credit to prevent creditors and lenders from accessing your credit.
Contact Any Companies with Fraudulent Accounts and Charges in Your Name
Note the companies of any accounts that were opened fraudulently in your name. You will have to talk to someone from each of these companies to resolve your dispute.
Part of the reason you should contact each company individually is that they may have different processes for identity theft resolution.
My identity was stolen. What are my options?
Report the Identity Theft to the FTC and the Police
When you file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission, the companies that you have disputes with will see that you are a victim of fraud.
Identity theft is also a crime, so you should file a report with the police as soon as you can.
Dispute Fraudulent Charges and Accounts
Check your credit report. Are there any accounts on it that you did not set up? If so, you need to dispute the error immediately.
If My Identity Was Stolen, Do I Have to Fight the Fraud by Myself?
You don’t have to deal with identity theft on your own. Get in touch with U.S. Credit Defense today to set up a consultation.