Identity thieves are opportunistic and exploit vulnerabilities in individuals’ personal information security practices. Identity theft is more than a simple inconvenience. It’s a crime that can seriously complicate your life—potentially costing you time, money and opportunities.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the number of reported cases of identity fraud in 2020 doubled in the United States. Each piece of information or account they gain access to can help them steal more. Unfortunately, signs of fraud can take weeks or months to reveal themselves, leaving us even more vulnerable.
Here are the best steps you can take if you have become a victim of identity theft:
- Check for inaccuracies from Your credit reports and make a list of any suspicious information you discover. You will need these details later when you work on fixing your credit later.
- Change all your account PINs and passwords.
- Review your mail & credit card statements to confirm none of your accounts have been hijacked.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report. When a fraud alert is on your credit report, lenders must confirm your identity (usually via phone) before they can open new accounts in your name.
- Freeze your credit report. When you freeze your credit report, you take it out of circulation. So, if someone applies for credit your name, the lender will not be able to access your credit report. As a result, the application for credit will be denied.
- Contact your creditors and ask them to freeze the compromised accounts and to dispute fraudulent charges. Federal laws like the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act can limit your liability for bogus charges on your credit cards or debit cards. The trick is to report the theft in a timely manner. Otherwise, you could be responsible for some or perhaps all of the unauthorized purchases.
- The final step in this process is to fix your credit. Start with filing an identity theft report. The easiest way to create an identity theft report is to visit IdentityTheft.gov. Once you have this report you will need to contact the 3 credit reporting agencies and ask them to block the account(s) from your credit report within four business days. They should suppress any fraudulent accounts.
If your case of identity theft has not been resolved to your satisfaction or you need help in this process, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-800-822-7120. THD Credit can help.