What to Do If You Become a Victim of Identity Theft
You’re just as likely as the next person to have your identity stolen. Recent statistics tell the story: 13.1 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2015 and experts don’t expect a slowdown anytime soon. Hopefully, you’ll never have your personal or financial information compromised, but if you do, these steps can help minimize the stress and damage of the situation:
Call Your Financial Institution
As soon as you know your credit card or bank account has been compromised, call your financial institution so the affected account can be closed. Keep a contact list of your accounts in a secure place—not in your wallet—so your bank can be contacted quickly.
Contact Credit Bureaus
To limit identity theft damage, you’ll also need to contact one of the three credit reporting agencies:
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
They will help you place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. A 90-day fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report and notifies lenders that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. A security freeze prevents new creditors from accessing your credit report. If you choose this option, extra steps will be needed when applying for new credit. There’s no reason to contact all three credit reporting agencies; each is required to notify the other two for you.
Sign Up For a Credit Monitoring Service
If you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, keep a close eye on your credit. Several companies offer credit monitoring services to save you the time and stress of monitoring your accounts. Sign up for one of them to maintain easy access on your account activity.
File a Report with the FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for protecting consumers from identity theft. Alert them if you believe your personal or financial information has been compromised. Contacting the FTC can be done by phone, mail or online. An FTC representative will create an identity theft affidavit to help you dispute fraudulent accounts.
Call Your Local Police Department
In addition to the organizations and agencies listed above, also contact your local law enforcement agency if your identity is stolen. The FTC will provide a letter you can give to your local police department to expedite the identity theft report filing process. Remember to keep a copy of your report and the investigator’s contact information on file for future reference.
Prevent It from Happening Again
Unfortunately, identity theft can strike twice. To prevent it from happening again, keep your personal information in a secure location. Make sure expired documents, files and credit cards are destroyed. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for online banking, and remember to never disclose personal or financial information over the phone.
Don’t panic if your identity is stolen. Instead, take a few deep breaths and follow the plan of action we’ve outlined here.
American Document Securities, Inc. offers records and information management services for businesses in Atlanta and Northeast Georgia. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.
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