The Five Steps To Take If You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft
1. Immediately contact any or all of the 3 major credit bureaus. Speak with someone in the fraud department and request that there should be a ‘fraud alert’ placed on your credit report. As soon as one on the credit bureaus confirms your fraud alert, the other two will immediately and automatically place a fraud alert report on your credit as well. With these fraud alerts in place, creditors must now contact you directly before opening any new accounts in your name or before changing any details of your existing credit accounts.
Also request a copy of your credit report from all three of the credit bureaus as well. Review your credit information and look for any unauthorized charges, accounts, or recent changes. Check to make sure that your name, address, your phone numbers, your Social Security number (SSN), and other personal information are accurate and unchanged. Request any inaccuracies be to changed by you notifying all the bureaus by phone and then following up in writing via certified mail. Make sure you have all legal documentation and all the changes made by all the bureaus. The addresses to contact the 3 credit bureaus are listed below.
Make sure you continue to check your credit reports every few months after the identity theft, especially during the first year.
2. Contact all the creditors of the accounts that have been opened or altered without your permission. This should include: all bank accounts, all credit card companies, utilities (water, electricity etc.), phone and cell phone companies, Internet providers, and anything else that may have be opened fraudulently. Contact each company’s fraud department immediately by phone and follow up with a certified letter.
The FTC offers a “ID Theft Affidavit” to dispute any new accounts, available at www.ftc.gov. To dispute any charges on your existing accounts, request for the company’s fraud dispute forms.
If you suspect that the identity thief has been passing around bad checks in your name, then immediately close the checking account and notify that bank. Contact all the check verification services and ask everyone (retailers etc.)who uses their databases stop accepting the ‘bad’ checks for any purchases. To immediately find out if anyone has been writing bad checks in your name, you can call SCAN at 1-800-262-7771.
The 3 major check verification services are:
• TeleCheck – Call 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188.
3. The third step you should be taking is contacting the police and filing an identity theft report. Request a copy of the police report for your records and also send it to the 3 major creditors to verify the crime. For some reason, 65% of victims do not notify the police, if they are a victim of identity theft crimes.
4. The fourth step is to file an ‘identity theft’ complaint with the FTC to assist the various law enforcement agencies across North America to track and combat identity thieves and eventually catch them. You’ll also be referred to other government agencies as well as consumer crime organizations to help you to recover from identity theft.
Contact the FTC here:
• The FTC’s Hotline for Identity Theft is: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338);
5. If you’ve been turned down for a loan, possibly lost a job, or have had to pay higher interest fees because of your credit score being higher due to identity theft, you may be able to make a credit damage claim. This is possible with a new process called the Credit Damage Measurement.
These five steps listed should resolve the credit problems associated with you being a victim of identity theft. Also stay alert and be aware of any new occurrences in your credit. Always review your credit reports yearly and report any problems to the creditors. With good diligence and a little bit of patience, you can recover your good name.
Here are the locations and the contact information for all three credit bureaus to report any identity fraud:
• Equifax – Call 1-800-525-6285; write P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; www.equifax.com for more info.
For more information to prevent Identity Theft