Identity Theft

What to Do If You’re the Victim of Identity Theft

The FTC thinks that close to 9,000,000 Americans have their identities stolen every year.

Identity theft can be a debilitating, stressful situation for any person. After all, we need to protect proof of ID for many of the most important parts of being an adult, like buying a home, buying a car, opening a credit account, and more. Having that freedom compromised can be scary.

Are you worried about potential identity theft?

Keep reading to learn more about identity theft protection and what to do when you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

Let Your Creditors and Banks Know

Many creditors and banks are going to have protections in place for any cardholders that are victims of identity theft, so it’s important to contact them right away once you realize what has happened.

If you’re experiencing credit card fraud, you have protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act, for example. Your creditor or bank will be able to talk to you about the different liability policies and protections in place when you contact them so you can know what to expect.

It’s crucial that you act fast, however, because some protections do have a limited amount of time in which the victim can report to be defended.

Take a Look at Your Credit Reports

You can review your credit reports and set up a fraud alert on your credit file. After you complete the fraud alert report, you will be able to receive one free credit report from each agency.

Scan these reports thoroughly to look for anything that may seem wrong. It might be an account you did not open, inquiries that you don’t remember, payment history that doesn’t look right, or incorrect personal information.

For future reference, you should pull your credit report again within the next year following this event to make sure that there hasn’t been any new fraudulent activity.

Freeze Your Active Credit

Credit freezing is a smart move to take in this situation when you know that you’re a victim of online fraud or credit fraud. It locks all of that information away, which will prevent agencies from providing your credit report to other creditors.

It’s also free, so you just need to contact each of the three agencies to request it. You’ll be asked to create a PIN that will be needed to lift the freeze later, so make sure you keep track of that information to avoid future delays.

By placing both a fraud alert and a freeze on your credit, you’re protecting yourself much more than if you just do one or the other.

Report It to the FTC and Your Lawyer

Contact the FTC online or by phone to let them know what you’ve been a victim of identity theft with as many details as possible.

They will provide you with a helpful recovery plan and can give you proof that your identity has been stolen. It’s smart to keep a copy of both of these items available to you as you talk with the police and your creditor or banking institutions.

At this point, it’s also a good idea to get in touch with a reputable attorney. Check out for more information.

Tell the Local Police

Although it may not seem completely necessary, you do still want to talk with your local police department about the situation. By filing a report, you will be protected from any damages that may come about in the future as a result of this theft.

You can also make the choice to report to the police in the location that the crime occurred.

Be as accurate as possible with your police report, and be sure to list all of the information you can. Include your identity theft report and the information the FTC gave you.

Keep a copy of your police report for your own records as well.

Request for Removal of the Fraud From Your Credit History

You can draft a letter to each of the three credit agencies to request that incorrect information on your credit history be removed. If it’s related to the fraudulent circumstances, they will be able to do this for you after a period of time.

With the letter, you should include copies of your identity theft report, identifying information, and specific details about what needs to be removed.

You can find a template for your letter on the FTC’s website if you’d like to see what this would typically look like.

Change Your Online Passwords

Change the password of any website or account that seems to have been impacted by the fraud. If it doesn’t already have a password, you should create a strong password for that account at this point to protect yourself in the future.

If you have trouble remembering passwords, you can use a password manager to keep track of them with ease.

Request New Identification

Depending on the type of identity theft you experienced, you will need to get new specific types of identification. For instance, if you have had your Social Security card stolen, you can request a replacement. If it was your driver’s license, you can contact the local DMV for a replacement.

Be sure to figure out what the appropriate reporting agency is for whatever type of identity theft you’ve experienced.

Call Your Phone and Utility Companies

The last thing to do is get in touch with any utility providers, as well as your phone carrier, to let them know about the fraud in case the thief tries to open new accounts under your name in the future.

You can also double-check whether or not a new account has already been opened that you don’t recognize, and request that it is closed if so.

Have You Been a Victim of Identity Theft?

Now you know what to do if you’re a victim of identity theft, and can keep yourself protected if it happens to you. Make sure that you take all of the appropriate steps listed above to give yourself the easiest route back to normalcy after identity theft.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out some of the other posts on our website today.

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