One the most difficult challenges anyone can deal with, is the loss of their identity. And while you may have done everything to protect your identity, as discussed in my blog How To Protect Yourself from Identity Theft, it is still possible you could fall victim to this terrible crime. So what do you do? How do you limit the damages? There are several steps, and you need to complete them as quickly as possible … don’t wait!
1. First and foremost, contact your current creditors both in writing and by the phone. Have them cancel your current cards and re-issue with new credit card numbers and security codes.
2. Contact the credit report agencies and have them put a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports. This will require the credit reporting agency to contact you directly before issuing a credit report to anyone. Typically these “Fraud Alerts” can only be in place for six months, so you would be required to renew the alerts after that period. The three primary credit reporting agencies are:
- Transunion – http://transunion.com Phone: 888-680-7289
- Equifax – http://equifax.com Phone: 888-766-0008
- Experian – http://experian.com Phone: 888-397-3742
3. File a report with your local police and make a copy! Create an electronic copy by scanning the report, so you can easily send it to your bank(s), credit card companies, collection agencies, or anyone else you would need to notify that your identity was stolen as of a specific date. This is a critical step!
While these are the most obvious and important steps that you are typically advised to complete once you believe your identity has been stolen, there are actually several other steps that you should complete, as well, to minimize long-term damages to your identity:
1. Contact the U.S. Post Office! Thieves can not only steal your identity by physically taking your mail from your mail box, but also by filing a fake change-of-address card. Go to http://usps.com
and confirm your current mailing address.
2. Notify the State Department! If you lost your passport, it is essential to let the State Department know immediately. Go to Http://travel.state.gov/passport/lost/lost_848.html#report or call 1-877-487-2778.
3. Inform the Social Security Department! Verify your work history by ordering copies of your Personal Earnings statements. Someone with the correct information could attempt to steal your benefits. To get a benefits estimate statement, as well as a benefit payments statement, go to http://ssa.gov/myaccount/ and create an account to access your statements.
4. If you believe that your information was compromised as the result of a transaction with a store, either in person or online, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a report. Go to http://www.consumer.gov/help-for-you/topic/scams-and-identity-theft or call 877-438-4338.
Finally, do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again! Please see my blog How To Protect Yourself from Identity Theft for easy and practical ideas to start protecting yourself.
NeoCertified – President & CEO