Dealing With Identity Theft
People who have their identity stolen may see unexplained withdrawals from their bank account, debt collectors may call them about debts that aren’t theirs, the IRS could tell them more than one tax return has been filed in their name.
People have needed the services of a bail bond agent to avoid being incarcerated because someone falsely used their identity. There are certain things a person needs to do once they know they’re a victim of identity theft.
It has been estimated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that identity theft victims will spend over $1,000 of their own money, as well as over 500 hours of their time, working to recover their identity. If a person in this situation does nothing, it is possible for them to lose as much as $9,000 for each identity attack. There are certain things a person should do if they suspect they are a victim of identity theft.
A person can file an identity theft complaint directly with the FTC. This will help members of law enforcement to look for those responsible for a person’s identity theft. This complaint can be filed by mail, telephone or online.
They can issue a fraud alert. Once a person issues a fraud alert, it will initially be in effect for 90 days. During this time no credit cards will be issued in their name. They will not be able to have any credit increases. All credit card applications will be blocked. It is possible for a person to get an extended fraud alert. This will require them to send the credit bureaus a copy of an Identity Theft Report. Once this is done, it is possible for a fraud alert to stay on a person’s credit account for as long as seven years.
There are three credit bureaus who maintain records of people’s credit reports. Each is required by law to notify the other two when a person makes a fraud alert. A person should confirm with all three credit bureaus that they have their fraud alert. Each of the credit bureaus must provide an individual with a free copy of their credit report once they’ve made a fraud alert. When someone gets copies of their credit report from the credit bureaus; they need to carefully review them. Inquiries from companies a person has not contacted, accounts they did not open as well as debts on current account that don’t seem authentic and more need to be identified.
Remove Fraudulent or Inaccurate Information
It’s important for a person to make every effort to remove any fraudulent or inaccurate information from their credit report. This could be such things as their name being misspelled or their Social Security number is inaccurate. The FTC can provide people with instructions on the most effective way to recover from being hurt by identity theft.
A person should contact every company where there has been an account opened fraudulently in their name, inform them and request the account be closed. It’s important to follow up this request with documents to support this claim. Have proof the company received the documents. Obtain any necessary forms to dispute all transactions. Ask if the company will take an ID Theft Affidavit from the FTC.
A person should also contact the local law enforcement office and file an official police report. Should one law enforcement agency refuse, it’s possible to approach another one. People have had success contacting their state’s Attorney General. When a person is able to file a police report, they need to provide all their supporting documents. A police report will help a person dispute false charges on any of their accounts.
A person should stop payment on any checks in a false bank account in their name. They should contact the local postal inspector if their mail is being sent to the wrong address. They should also contact the Social Security Administration to see if benefits have been falsely obtained in their name. They should contact the local DMV to make certain a false driver’s license wasn’t obtained in their name. A person can also contact the U.S. State Department to make certain a passport wasn’t fraudulently acquired in their name and more.
Victims of identity theft might not know their personal information has been stolen. They may become aware of it after serious damage has been done. It’s important a person respond quickly, but experts agree it’s never too late to stop it.