So Your Identity is Stolen - What Do You Do First?

The first thing to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen:
I have talked about identity theft before. Below I have talked about various ways to help protect yourself from identity theft, there is no way to totally protect yourself. Since there is no way to totally protect yourself, what I thought I would do is explain what to do if you become a big can of identity theft.

First, how do you find out if you have been a victim of identity theft? That is a the very important question. The best way to  know that you have been a victim of identity theft is to be vigilant. You need to check your bank account statements very closely on a regular basis. You need to run your own credit report. You can do this three times a year for free or in reality you can get one report once a year for free from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You can get these free reports for free only  through www.annualcreditreport.com. If you find something on those reports that you should not have credit for or you have not borrowed money for, chances are you are a victim of identity theft. The same goes for expenditures from your bank account you did not make. Here are some other common indicators that you may have been a victim of identity theft:

  • You get a credit card that you never applied for
  • You get denied credit when you thought you had a good credit score
  • You get calls from debt collectors for debts you should not have
  • You have accounts you did not open and you have some accounts you cannot explain

Okay, so now you know you're a victim of identity theft what do you do? The first thing you need to do is place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.  You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies.

Here is how you contact them:
TransUnion: www.transunion.com
1-800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
 P.O. Box 6790
 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Equifax: www.equifax.com
1-800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740241
 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian:  www.experian.com
1-888-397-3742
 P.O. Box 9554
 Allen, TX 75013

After you have received the reports, you can check them to see what accounts and companies you have not done business with and get their information.  Make sure all the details are correct on the Credit Report like employer, your SSN, your name and initials.  If anything is fraudulent or inaccurate you can have it removed.
Remember that this is only the first step in what to do when you are a victim of identity theft.
I will further explain the next steps in a following post:

2. Close the accounts that have been tampered with or have been fraudulently opened
3. Make a police report
4. File a complaint with the FTC

Whatever you do - stay safe!

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