Identity thefts may leave people with empty bank accounts coupled with bogus charges, additional utility or medical bills, and most importantly, sleepless nights. Although an effective way to deal with identity thefts, or avoid them in the first place, is to be careful while using unsecured systems; if you still get unlucky, the first thing you need to do is to take charge of the situation.
Post Identity Theft: Immediate Steps to Follow
- Contact the fraud control department of every bank and other financial entities where you hold an account, and ask them to freeze your accounts to avoid further damage.
- If the above is not a viable option, change the login IDs, PINS and passwords for all your accounts.
- Contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert and get your credit report.
- Report the case to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Do remember to save and print the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit as it will not be available later.
- File a complaint with your Local Police Department and ask for a police report.
- Get an identity theft report by combining your police report and FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
How to Repair the Damage?
Once you have an identity theft report, the next step is to repair the damage. For this, you may need to get in touch with the credit score repair companies to help you with the process in an organized manner, especially if you are unclear about how credit works. If, however, you have the expertise to execute the case on your own, here are the steps to be taken:
Close Fraudulent Accounts in Your Name
Once you have the Identity Theft Report, inform the fraud control department of each business where any new accounts were opened in your name, without your knowledge or consent, and ask them to close those accounts. You must also ask the businesses for a confirmation letter that states the fraudulent accounts don’t belong to you, and therefore, you will not be held liable for them in future. The letter should also state that the same has been updated in your credit report. Do keep the letter safe for future references.
Get Bogus Charges Removed
If you have any bogus charges levied, contact the fraud control department of the concerned business and ask them to revert the charges. Do ask them for a confirmation letter and keep it safe for future references.
Update your Credit Report
Your Identity Theft Report gives you the right to have any fraudulent information removed from your credit report. For this, you need to write to the 3 major credit bureaus separately, providing your Identity theft report, identity proof documents, and Social Security number.
Add a Credit Freeze or an Extended Fraud Alert
In addition to these steps, you may consider adding a credit freeze or an extended fraud alert by informing the 3 major credit bureaus of your intention to do so. Though the two of these have different features, but both are meant to notify lenders to take special precautions at the time of extending credit on your profile.
A Word of Advice
Freezing your accounts or placing a fraud alert with the 3 major credit bureaus and FTC is something that you can immediately do on your own. Once this is done and you have an Identity theft report, it is always advisable to get in touch with a competent credit repair services firm to help you with the process of damage repair. As credit repair firms have the professional expertise to handle such issues, they are ideally placed to take up such cases and minimize the hurdles in the tedious process of repairing the damage. To learn more, feel free to contact one of our consultants.