You get that dreaded phone call: there’s been suspicious activity on your credit card and your bank wants to know if you've been engaging in a spending spree. You’re shocked and appalled. Your identity has been stolen and you've got to act quickly if you want to protect yourself from additional theft and damage.
You’re understandably overwhelmed. What do you do? You want to figure out how this has happened. There are a few steps you’re going to have to take to protect your wallet and your credit:
Contact Equifax, Experian, or Transunion Immediately
You’re going to have to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You won’t have to call all three. Once you contact one agency, they’ll inform the others. They’ll also be sending you a copy of your credit report for you to review. Fraud alerts are extremely important because it requires companies to verify your identity before issuing a line of credit in your name. This will prevent thieves from opening any more new accounts in your name.
Contact Creditors Right Away
Contact Local Authorities
The next step is to contact local authorities and alert them to fraud. A detective will be assigned to your case and you can ask for any details about the charges. You’ll want to let them know what was spent and how your identity was stolen. When you finish providing information to the police, be sure to write down the case number and detective’s name. You’ll have to include this information on any fraud affidavits.
File a Complaint with the FTC
You’ll also need to notify the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1877-IDTHEFT.
Change all Online Passwords
You’ll want to change all your online passwords. The thieves may have acquired information from one of your accounts. Additionally, this may be inconvenient, but you should never store passwords online or on your computer.
Always Keep Records
You’ll want to keep updated records throughout the process. You should keep up with details of your dealings with any creditors, companies, and detectives. You should always write down the name of anyone you speak with, their title, the company they work for, the date, and time as well as a short summary of the discussion you had.
You’ll need to keep all this information in one location that is safe. It’s evidence that you will need later. You might find yourself being diligent initially, but important information may surface later. You need to track everything until all of your disputes are resolved.
Identity theft shouldn't ruin your life or your credit if you can manage to stay calm, be organized and take those first crucial steps involved in resolving any issues. You can bounce back from this stressful situation and you can stop those identity thieves right in their tracks. It might be tough initially, but it’s not an impossible situation.
If you are still curious on what more steps to take in preventing identity theft, you can visit GuestDoor. You can also visit Traveler's Guide to Preventing Identity Theft.