So Your Identity is Stolen - What is the Second Thing to Do?

Close the accounts that have been tampered with or have been fraudulently opened:  I will not got into what to do first – you can just read about that here.   What you need to do second is close tampered with or fraudulent accounts.  This involves careful study of your credit reports.  When you place a fraud alert on your credit reports, you get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies.

Check your Credit Report Closely: This brings up the whole notion of checking your own credit from time to time.  I suggest doing it three times a year.  Why three times a year?  You can do that for free.  You get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies once per year just for the asking.

So how do you go about closing these accounts?  You need to contact the security department of the company and explain why you are closing the account(s).  Some companies require a police report to be able to close the account.  The police report is a later step, but if you need it to close the accounts, just send that in after the police report is made available.

You should have pretty much all the information used to open the fake accounts from your credit report.  However, be sure to request all information used to open these accounts.  Companies must by law give you a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your identity theft if you made a request in writing. Make sure you know where to mail the request. If you do not know, ask them. Companies are required to provide such records at no cost to you.  They also must do it within 30 days of receipt of your request and any supporting documents. You also can ask that a copy of these records be sent to a particular law enforcement officer or agency. You may not be able to get all of that information without the previously mentioned police report.

The Procedure: The company that opened the fraudulent account(s) should have a standard procedure for handling these cases.  It should be fairly straightforward and understandable steps you can take to close these accounts.   Be sure to notify credit card companies and banks in writing.  You need to include copies of any documentation you have - never send any originals.  Send the mail using priority mail or certified mail so you can track and document when it is delivered.  Most companies have special forms to dispute fraudulent transactions – be sure to get those and fill them out.  If the company already has reported these accounts or debts on your credit report, dispute this fraudulent information.  I will cover correcting your credit report later on in another post.

Do not panic: You are not liable and cannot be held liable for fraudulent purchases or fraudulently opened accounts.  The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability for unauthorized credit card charges to $50 per card.  So if you paid for special insurance for this, you may as well have been burning the money.  If it makes you feel better to spend money for this kind of “protection” you can send me the money.  I will give you a receipt and everything.

Remember, this is only step 2 – you have a ways to go.  Identity theft takes a lot of time and effort to correct, but it is not an impossible task.  Whatever you do – Stay Safe!

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