In 2015 alone, over 13 million Americans were victim of identity fraud, resulting in damages of more than $15 billion. While identity theft takes many forms, these are some of the most common:
– Credit card fraud
– False applications for new credit
– Fraudulent withdrawals from a bank account
– Fraudulent use of telephone calling cards
– Fraudulent use of medical care
– Social security fraud (for tax and employment fraud)
Here are 4 steps to take immediately if you have been a victim of identity theft:
- Contact the institution involved – e.g. if your credit card was stolen, call your bank and report fraudulent charges.
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert with a credit bureau – This is a 90-day warning that cardholders can ask the credit bureaus to place on their credit reports. Make sure you get a copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies.
- Submit an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create an Identity Theft Report. This report gives you important rights that can help you restore your financial health.
- File a report police report – You should also report identity theft to the police. When filing the police report, bring a copy of your FTC report, a government-issued photo ID, proof of your address (such as a utility bill), and any proof you may have of the theft (credit card statements, bank statements, bills, etc).
Clearing the wreckage of identity theft can be a complex process. If this happens to you, I am here to help stop the theft and minimize the damage.
Until next month,