How to Recover from Identity Theft

No one wants to consider the possibility that they may become the victim of identity theft or fraud.  However reported cases of identity theft are on the rise annually, and knowing what to do if, and when, you become a victim is equally as important as trying to prevent falling prey to identity thieves.  Here are some of the immediate actions you need to take to recover from identity theft, as soon as possible if you notice you have had your identity stolen.  If you act promptly, you can mitigate some of the damage that may be done.

1.  Place a Fraud Alert

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are the three major credit reporting bureaus which keep your credit history record.  If you have noticed fraudulent charges on your credit cards or unauthorized withdrawls from your bank account or any other misuse of your personal information, you should call one of the three credit bureaus and request that they place and initial fraud alert on your credit report. There will be no cost to you.  You will be required to provide some form of proof of identity and the bureau you call will be required to alert the other 2 reporting bureaus as well.  You do not need to call and place a fraud alert with the other two reporting agencies.

By placing this fraud alert on your credit report as soon as you notice the unauthorized activity, you can make it more difficult for the identity thief to open additional accounts and do even more damage to your credit.  A fraud alert will require businesses to verify your identity before they open lines of credit in your name, so you may be contacted if any additional account openings are attempted by the identity thieves. Your initial fraud alert will expire on all three credit bureaus after 90 days, but you can renew it for an additional 90 days at that time.  You are also allowed to receive your free credit report from each of the credit bureaus, so make sure you ask them for that as well. If you’re not already signed up, consider using an identity theft protection service such as Lifelock, Identity Guard or one from the 3 major credit bureaus.  This will help you keep track of any additional fallout from the id theft.

How to Register a Fraud Alert

  • The first step is to contact the credit reporting agency.  Tell them that you are a victim of identity theft.  Ask the agency to place a fraud alert on your credit file and request that they contact the other two credit reporting agencies about the fraud alert.  There is no cost to place a fraud alert.  Make sure the credit bureaus have updated contact information such as address and phone number.  They may need to contact you in the future.
  • The credit report agency will let you know about receiving your free credit report as well as your other rights and options as a potential identity theft victim.
  • Be sure to mark your calendar with the fraud alert start and end date.  The fraud alert will end in 90 days.  You can renew after that if necessary.
  • Keep detailed records of the dates you made calls to the credit agencies or any other companies involved in your case of identity theft.  Record the dates of any letters you send and keep copies of them for your records.

Credit Report Bureau Contact Information

Equifax
1-800-525-6285
Experian
1-888-397-3742
TransUnion
1-800-680-7289

2. Order Your Credit Reports from All 3 Credit Agencies

Unique_banner_300x250You’ve taken the most important first step after discovering that you may have been a victim of identity theft, placing the initial fraud alert.  Your next step should be to call each of the reporting bureaus and request they send a copy of your credit report.  They will instruct you you to proceed.

If you already have an idea of which accounts have been compromised, get in touch with those businesses and inform someone in the fraud department.  Send the businesses certified letters as a follow up, informing them of the fraudulent activity.  Keep records of all correspondences.

3. Report the Identity Theft

In creating an identity theft report, you will have an excellent tool to assist you in dealing with the credit agencies and other companies and businesses involved with your identity theft case.  The report will help you prevent a business from attempting to collect debts that have resulted from the id theft.  It will also stop them from sending your debt to collection agencies.

Your ID theft report will help you work with the credit bureaus to have fraudulent and inaccurate information removed from all of your credit reports.

You will be able to place an extended fraud alert on all of your credit reports once you have filed an identity theft report.

Creating Your ID Theft Report

You can submit your information about the ID theft directly to the FTC.  After you’ve completed all of the details about the theft, print copies for your records.  You have now created an Identity Theft Affidavit.

When you go to file a police report, take the Identity Theft Affidavit with you.

Once completed, obtain a copy of the police report from the office where you filed.  The police department usually makes them available within a reasonable time frame from the date the police report was filed.  Your official police report and your Identity Theft Affidavit comprise your ID Theft Report.

Occasionally, the credit reporting agencies and the businesses that reported to the credit bureaus want different or additional information outside of what’s included on the Identity Theft Report.  They will make you aware of what information they’re looking for and the best way to submit that to them.

 Next Step – Extended Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts