What should you do if your identity has been stolen? If you believe you’ve become the victim of identity theft, don’t panic! Scambook is here to help you control the damage. Watch our latest video for 3 tips to take immediate action and repair your identity after a scammer violates your privacy.
Kevan breaks it down into easy steps: place a fraud alert on your credit report, order a free credit report to catch and dispute any fraudulent activity, and how to create an identity theft report with the FTC.
Obviously, the best way to deal with identity theft is to prevent it from happening in the first place, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do.
If you think a scammer has accessed your private personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, here are 3 steps you should take as soon as possible to minimize the damage:
Step 1. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit report.
A fraud alert will make it difficult for the identity thief to open any financial accounts, like a new line of credit or a loan, in your name.
How do you place a fraud alert? Contact one of the three major US credit agencies: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. You only need to alert one because the agency you contact is then required to alert the other two. Placing a fraud alert is free and you can do it online or over the phone.
When you alert the credit agency, make sure you update your report with your current address and phone number in case any financial institutions need to contact you regarding a suspicious transaction.
Step 2. Order a free Credit Report.
Remember, you’re eligible for one free credit report every 12 months. You can get your free report
from Experian, TransUnion or Equifax, or go online to www.annualcreditreport.com (we suggest avoiding other “free” credit report sites because they often charge hidden fees).
After you receive your credit report, review the information carefully. If you believe any of your accounts have been tampered with and you need to dispute an error, call the business in question and ask to speak to someone in their fraud department.
Always follow-up your call with certified mail and get a receipt for your letter — this creates a record of your communication, which might be helpful in the future.
Step 3. Create an Identity Theft Report.
This will help you help dispute any accounts opened by the thief so you can remove fraudulent debts and clean up your credit report. An Identity Theft Report is made up of two things:
1. An Identity Theft Affidavit. This is a detailed summary of the identity theft incident. Include as much information as you can, then send a copy to the FTC.
2. A police report about the identity theft incident.
Get hard copies of your affidavit and the police report. Together, these two documents compose your Identity Theft Report.
Keep the Report in a very safe place and send copies to any banks, lenders or other businesses at risk. Having this information on file will help you minimize any damage done by the identity thief.
Share Your Thoughts and Questions
Has your identity ever been stolen? What did you do? Share your experiences and add your own tips in the comments.
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