Five Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Provided by HG.org
Unfortunately when someone realizes that he or she is a victim of identity theft, this is usually become some negative result has already happened. A person may have been denied credit for which he or she believed would be a certainty. A letter may come in the mail regarding a debt of which the individual was never aware, or the Internal Revenue Service may send a notice of a large tax debt.
Identity theft can wreak havoc on a personís credit. However, there are protective steps that a person can take to recover and prevent future harm.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
Call one of the three credit bureaus and request to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert places a red flag on your credit report and lets creditors know that they need to take extra steps in verifying your information before they extend credit.
Having a fraud alert placed on your credit report can make it more difficult for someone to open up more accounts because he or she has to verify your identity before being able to acquire additional credit. A fraud alert remains active for 90 days, but you can extend it for longer if you wish to do so.
Be sure that your information is updated with the credit bureau itself so that a representative can contact you about any suspicious activity. Once you place a fraud alert with one bureau, it is responsible for notifying the other credit bureaus of the alert.
Review Your Credit Report
Placing a fraud alert on your account triggers your right to a free credit report from each credit bureau. Once you order your credit report, check it over carefully for any accounts of which you are not familiar. If you notice any mistakes on your credit report, dispute these by sending a certified letter that details how the information in the credit report is not correct.
Dealing with identity theft can be a distressing situation in which you repeat the same information to different individuals and companies. However, it is important that you stay organized so that you have a detailed accounting of the progress you make. This information may later need to be used in a prosecution of the identity thief or in a lawsuit.
Record the date of each phone call you make on a telephone log. Include the name of the individual with whom you speak and that personís phone number. Write down a list of questions to ask the person and a summary of what was discussed after each call. Jot down the date upon which another action must be made, such as following up with a certain person about the progress on your account.
For all written communications, send certified mail with a return receipt. Keep all originals of documents and send the copy. You will likely need to verify your identity many times, so make a copy of the necessary identifying document.
Consider Placing a Credit Freeze
Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports to prevent a creditor from being able to extend any further credit. A creditor cannot receive your credit report when you have a freeze on it. Any new application is automatically declined. If you want to get new credit, there are steps that a creditor can take to process a legitimate request. You must make this request with every credit bureau if you want to take this route.
File an Identity Theft Report
An identity theft report can provide the basis to dispute charges and prevent further damage by an identity thief. The report begins with a complaint to the FTC. Get a police report in which you describe the identity theft. Provide the police department with a copy of the identity theft report, which is considered an affidavit. Get a copy of the police report and provide this report to companies to help establish that the debt was not taken out on your behalf.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.