Nobody thinks they’ll become a victim of identity theft until it happens to them. In 2018, 14.4 million people were victims of identity fraud. Nearly a quarter of victims were left with unreimbursed expenses related to the fraud, and the average loss was $375 of cases reported. Aside from monetary losses, identity theft can cost you a lot of time and effort to resolve. In this article, we’ll look at important steps to take if you’re a victim of identity theft.
File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission
The FTC collects information about identity theft cases. The information is used by law enforcement agencies to track down the criminals. To file a report with the FTC, visit www.identifytheft.gov. After you file the report, you’ll receive a recovery plan and letters and forms that can be used to file police reports and dispute fraudulent charges on any of your accounts.
Contact Your Local Police Department
The next step is to file a report with your local police department. Your report may not do much if your identity was stolen by criminals online or overseas, but it could help them track down someone stealing information locally. Additionally, the report creates a paper trail that can help you and be useful in the future. Some states have a cyber task force to help with online identity theft.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
You need to follow up with the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion and request a fraud alert be placed on your account. The fraud alert will stay on your credit report for one year. It will notify any institution that pulls your credit report that your identity has been compromised. The alert will prompt creditors to take an extra step to verify the identity of the person opening a new account under your name. You will only need to request a fraud alert from one of the credit bureaus, and then they will notify the other two.
Sign Up for a Credit Monitoring Service
If your information was accessed in a data breach, you might be offered complimentary credit monitoring. These services watch credit reports for suspicious activity and send alerts when a new account is opened. If you can’t get free credit monitoring, you can sign up for reputable service yourself for a low monthly cost.
Tighten Security on All of Your Accounts
Cybersecurity experts point out that most people don’t use best practices for password protection. Most people never change their passwords. Many use the same password on all their different accounts. Using a password manager is an easy way to ensure all your accounts have strong passwords. The services generate passwords that cannot be easily guessed, and then stores and auto-fills them on websites, so you don’t need to remember each one.
Need Credit Repair Help?
Sometimes you need expert guidance to get back on track. If your credit has been damaged due to identity theft, or any other reason, you can get it back in shape with the right strategy. We help people every day with credit repair strategies that quickly raise credit scores and ensure long term credit success.
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