Reporting Identity Theft
Identity theft is a frightening crime that affects millions of consumers each year. If someone gets your personal information, you want to do everything you can to help safeguard your identity. In some instances, identity theft insurance and monitoring may be worth considering.
While the steps involved to react to identity thefts may include several measures, each step is critical in protecting your future. Here’s a look into what identity theft is and what you can do if it happens to you.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, and fraudulently uses it for their profit. Scammers can take personal data, such as birth dates, names, passwords, or social security numbers, to hack into an account or create false accounts. Identity theft can also occur in other forms, such as medical identity theft and account takeover.
Now that you’ve got a better understanding as to what constitutes identity theft, let’s talk about what actions you can take if it happens to you.
How to Respond to Identity Theft
If you believe your identity may have been stolen or used in fraudulent activity, you may be confused as to what your next steps should be. Here are some steps you can immediately take if you believe you’re a victim of identity theft.
Check Your Financial Accounts
You can check for any changes to your credit scores and credit reports. Additionally, it’s also wise to check to see if your personal information was subject to a data breach with a different organization.
As you get to the bottom of the problem, be sure also to save receipts and make a record of any phone calls with lenders, credit bureaus, and law enforcement.
Identify Compromised Accounts
Now that you’ve gone through your accounts, identify any accounts that you believe were endangered and make an accurate record of each. You will want to identify each type of account that was hacked and take the necessary steps for each account.
You will also want to request copies of your credit report from all three national credit bureaus. This will help keep a lookout for any info that is incorrect or incomplete, or any unfamiliar accounts and addresses that were used.
With SmartCredit’s Action Buttons, you can also resolve instances of suspicious activity that you see on your credit report by sending communication directly to the source.
Place Fraud Alerts on Your Accounts or Freeze Your Credit Reports
Your next step will be to try and prevent any further damage to your financial records. You can mitigate your risk of additional harm by setting up fraud alerts or by putting a freeze on your credit reports.
You can put a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting any of the major credit bureaus. This will require lenders to take additional measures to confirm your identity when opening any new account in the future. Additionally, a fraud alert will inform the other reporting agencies of potential identity theft and will be retained on your account for 90 days.
A credit freeze, on the other hand, restricts access to your credit reports, which can prevent new accounts from being opened under your name. To freeze your credit reports, you will need to contact each credit reporting agency individually and request a credit freeze.
While both generally have the same impact on your credit report, they are slightly different. Unless you temporarily lift or permanently remove the credit freeze, it cannot be used to open new accounts. Either option is well worth considering in the event of identity theft.
Change All of Your Passwords
Data breaches can expose your personal information, which is why it’s critical to change all of your passwords after an instance of identity theft. We recommend using a secure digital vault for storing online passwords.
Report Your Information to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Next, you will want to report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has a website dedicated specifically to identity theft that allows consumers to submit their information and let the FTC know precisely what happened.
From there, the FTC will be able to help you create an identity theft report, a private recovery program, and assist you with any forms or letters that you will need moving forward.
The FTC will help guide you through the recovery process and monitor your progress along the way. In some cases, involving the FTC with the identity theft process can remove the need to involve local police and file a police report.
However, if you know the individual who stole your identity or have additional information that could assist law enforcement agencies, it’s imperative that you contact your local police department to examine your identity theft further.
Filing a police report with your regional law enforcement agency will provide you with official documentation stating you have been a victim of identity theft. This will prove to be extremely useful in the following step.
Dispute Any Fraudulent Activity
Once you have completed the above steps, you will now need to dispute any fraudulent action that may have occurred. For each account that has been compromised, you will want to alert the company directly to learn about its specific process for dealing with identity theft.
During this call, you will want to clearly explain that somebody stole your identity and request the company to close the fraudulent account.
Additionally, you will also want to request the company send you an official letter confirming the fraudulent account is not yours and that you are not accountable for the account. This letter should also confirm that the fraudulent account was removed from your credit report. It’s critical that you receive everything in writing in case you need it for future reference.
Protect Your Finances
Unfortunately, identity theft can happen to anyone. The good news is that there are steps you can take to take back control of your finances.
Additionally, you can also sign up for a credit monitoring service to help you spot suspicious activity in your credit reports in the future. With Smart Credit’s identity theft insurance, you not only monitor cybercrime, but also have coverage that will help keep you protected. Stay alert with SmartCredit today!