Topic: Identity Theft
Despite the growth of software and applications meant to protect personal data, the rate of identity theft continues to rise at unprecedented rates.
Even though identity theft is one of life’s events that always seem to “happen to someone else,” odds are that one day you will be a victim.
What should a person do when their banking information, medical information and other personal data has been stolen or compromised? Sure, it’s not something pleasant to think about, but being forewarned is to be forearmed.
The FTC, Federal Trade Commission, provides a resource for victims of identity theft. The site is also helpful for anyone that just wants to learn about the problem and solutions. The FTC suggests the first step is placing a fraud alert with one of the three big credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.
Request Credit Reports
Everyone is entitled to a free credit report annually. Requesting a credit report for the purpose of placing a fraud alert will also get you a set of three reports — even if it hasn’t been a year since your last request.
Make sure not to visit one of the look-alike sites that try to get paid for the free reports, contact the agencies directly.
File a Theft Report
File an Identity Theft report, based on a government affidavit about the crime along with the police report. The theft complaint can be completed on the FTC’s website and will include guides for making sure all of the mandatory facts are included.
Sure, a Theft Report is another ritual in paperwork, but having the report will help the recovery from identity theft. Besides having fraudulent data removed from a credit report, it also puts businesses, who may be trying to collect debts you didn’t create, on hold.
Creditors could include loans, credit cards, utilities and bank accounts. Some vendors may hold the theft victim responsible for some of the charges, but that is determined on a case-by-case basis from each service provider.
Creating a document that lists dates and times of each action taken, including the people spoken to, will help keep track of the tidal wave of information now flowing between vendors, creditors and the police.
Often, an insurance agent, banking or credit representative has a program meant to help victims of identity theft. Often free, or available for a reasonable fee, the services do much of the groundwork for you.
Bankrate.com has put together a 12- Step program of sorts for identity theft victims.
The steps are relatively easy, and many are common sense. However, it is a useful checklist to help a identity theft victim stay on track as they recover from a possibly traumatic loss. The steps are:
- Notify any affected creditors and banks
- Initiate a fraud alert
- Check credit reports
- Get a credit freeze
- Contact FTC
- File police report
- Provide creditors with ID Theft Report
- Notify credit reporting agencies
- Change all passwords
- Call Social Security
- Obtain new driver’s license
- Contact utility companies