If you have had your ID taken over by someone else, you need to get started fixing it.
Here are 10 basic steps to take if you have been a victim of ID theft.
1. Get started right away. Don’t put it off. The faster you start, the better it will end up for you.
2. Get organized about the process. It’s going to take some time and effort, but you can do it.
3. Place a fraud alert at each of the three credit reporting agencies.
4. File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
5. File a police report at your local police station. You will receive a police report number. Save it.
6. Place an extended fraud alert at the credit reporting agencies if your situation runs past 90 days.
7. Contact any business that is specifically involved.
8. Check and formally dispute any errors that are in your credit reports.
9. Place a block on credit report errors that you are disputing with a creditor.
10. Work with the IRS to correct any issues. Be sure you quickly respond to any mail you receive from them.
We have more tips like this on our main website’s ID recovery page (http://www.identitythefthelp.com/recovery/). Be sure to visit us when you have some time.
Nothing on this page should be taken as legal or financial advice. If you are a victim of identity theft, please consult qualified professionals licensed in your state.
There are many things that could indicate that you may have a problem with someone stealing your identity.
Here are 15 of the biggest indicators:
1. You notice unusual activity in one of your checking or savings accounts.
2. You see unusual charges on one of your credit card or debit card statements.
3. Some regular monthly bills or other mail stops arriving in your mailbox.
4. You get a phone call from a debt collector.
5. One of your credit reports shows an account that you think isn’t yours.
6. You receive a bill or statement from a medical provider that you have never gone to.
7. Your health insurance company sends you details about a medical claim that you didn’t make.
8. You receive an email or letter notifying you that you changed your account details.
9. You lost your laptop or other computer.
10. The Internal Revenue Service or your state tax authority contacts you.
11. There is a serious data breach at a financial organization you belong to.
12. You discover your computer has some serious malware on it, and it may have been there for a while.
13. You get arrested or questioned by the police about something you weren’t involved with.
14. Your purse or wallet was stolen or lost.
15. Someone broke into your home and you lost financial or personal documents.
Just because you notice one of these things happening to you doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is, or has, taken your identity. These are just some of the most common indicators.
We explore more of these in detail at our ID Detection page at IdentityTheftHelp.com/Detection
Identity theft is serious.
If someone steals your identity, they can take money out of your bank account; open up new charge accounts or make charges on one of your current ones; file a tax return in your name and claim your refund and create a bunch of other problems for you.
29 Steps to Preventing ID Theft
1. Regularly check each of your three credit reports.
2. Regularly go through all your financial statements.
3. Use good passwords and don’t reuse them at too many different websites.
4. Read all your mail that deals with finances or money.
5. Keep your important papers in a safe place.
6. Be careful what you do and where you go on the Internet.
7. Don’t carry your social security card around with you.
8. Don’t carry unnecessary credit cards or store charge cards around with you either.
9. Don’t tell people your social security number if they don’t really need to know it.
10. Stay current on your credit cards by activating them when they arrive.
11. Buy a paper shredder and use it on all financial documents before you throw them out.
12. Keep your debit card PIN a secret. Don’t write it down on your debit card.
13. Put temporary freezes on your credit report so no one can open an account in your name.
14. Keep your contact details at all financial institutions up to date.
15. Have a secure email account and don’t let many people know what it is.
16. Make sure you have virus and malware software installed on your computer.
17. Stay clear of using public Wi-Fi hotspots when you are working on sensitive internet activities.
18. Protect your computers from being stolen. There is a lot of important information on them.
19. Be careful when using public computers, only use them for recreational surfing.
20. Keep your smartphone safe from being stolen and keep all software updated.
21. Check your reported earnings at the Social Security Administration about once each year.
22. Be a little wary when you receive a phone call from a financial institution that you weren’t expecting.
23. Be careful when clicking on links in emails, even if that email seems to be from a friend of yours.
24. Opt out of receiving those pre-screened credit card offers that come regularly in the mail.
25. Be careful about what you say on social media. Don’t share too many details that someone could use against you.
26. Don’t have your new checks mailed to your home if you can help it.
27. Make sure you place your outgoing mail in a safe location.
28. Don’t give out a lot of details to a marketing research company over the phone.
29. Be cautious when recycling electronics such as a computer or smartphone.
Use common sense and be careful.
We go into more detail on these and other tips at our ID prevention page at IdentityTheftHelp.com/Prevention