Identity theft risks your credentials, reputation, and finances. It can also expose you to criminal charges. Knowing what to do when your identity is stolen can help limit the repercussions.
Frauds can steal your details even when you’re extra vigilant. They can access your social security number and commit many crimes under your name. The best way you can respond in the event of stolen identity is to take prompt action.
Check out these 10 tips on what you should do if you’re a victim of identity theft.
1. Monitor Your Accounts
As soon as you receive notifications of identity theft, think of securing your money. Theives are more likely to target where they can reap most. Your bank accounts and credit cards may be at a higher risk of compromise.
For instance, in 2017 Russian hackers stole over $10 million from Russian and US banks. In case of identity theft, notify your bank straight away. Bank and credit card firms allow reporting of any fraudulent account activity within 24 hours.
You’ll also need to strengthen your passwords. Instead of using codes that are easy to guess such as your birthdate, go for complex passwords. Tools like Dashlane can help you generate secure passwords to boost your accounts’ security.
2. Set a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
With your social security number, criminals can do a lot of damage to your credit history. But a fraud alert can help you prevent further damage.
Fraud alerts remain on your accounts for a year to warn lenders of your compromised identity. The institution’s counter check prevents compromise in case someone attempts to open new accounts
The best part of fraud alerts is they are free and easy to set up. If you alert one bureau, they can update their counterparts on your status.
3. Set Up a Credit Freeze
If you’re not confident about fraud alerts, you can step up your security through a credit freeze. A credit freeze bars lenders from viewing your accounts or extending credit. Identity thieves who may have your SSN won’t be able to open accounts under your credentials.
For the process to work, you need to request a credit freeze from all the credit bureaus. You’ll also fill an affidavit and submit your SSN and copies of your bill. Some credit bureaus can charge you for the service depending on your resident state.
4. Report to the Federal Trade Commission
Most fraudsters are swift. They are likely to move fast when they land on your identity details. As you contemplate what to do after your identity is stolen, it could be too late.
But you can limit any legal repercussions if you report stolen identity to the Federal Trade Commission. FTC won’t help you to file criminal charges, but your action can protect many other people. The FBI will probably use your information to track the criminals.
You’ll also receive forms that can help you file the identity case with the police. Visit the Federal Trade Commission to submit your stolen identity.
5. Report to the Local Police
A police report can signal your innocence and prompt investigations. If identity theft happened locally the police could use the information to arrest the perpetrators.
The police statement is also legal proof you’re not a criminal. In case the thieves use your credentials to commit a crime, you can defend your innocence in court.
Keep in mind that the FTC report isn’t a replacement for a police statement. But Your FTC identity theft report is a requirement when reporting your case to the local police.
6. Hire an Identity Theft Lawyer
When thinking about what to do when your identity is stolen, you may overlook hiring a lawyer. Depending on your case, you may need an identity theft lawyer. Identity theft cases are on the rise and incur consumers up to $900 million every year.
If identity thieves have breached your bank account, you should reach out to your bank fast. Complex cases of stolen identity will need the input of a lawyer. For instance, if frauds take over your credit accounts you may want to hasten the legal process.
7. Notify the IRS
Criminals can also play around with your tax return status. Some notifications from the IRS can alert you if there’s identity theft. If you suspect intrusion in your tax report, you also need to notify the IRS.
The IRS says you should report messages from their office that signal identity theft. For instance, they can inform you of a refund offset or a balance due. Planned collection action against your name can also be an alarm.
8. Report to Your Insurance Provider
If you lose your money, you’ll definitely want the scoop on what to do after your identity is stolen. Identify theft insurance helps prevent the many financial repercussions of identity theft.
In the case of identity theft, reach out to your insurance provider. Many insurance firms now cover recovery costs. They also provide support services throughout the process.
With their help, you can save your money, keep your credit score, and recover any losses.
9. Audit All Accounts for Mysterious Transactions
As a victim of identity theft, you can not assume your account’s security. Ask for your credit reports to audit any mysterious accounts.
It’s a legal requirement to access at least one free credit report from your agency. If you exhaust your free options, you can buy the credit reports.
Scan your bank and credit card statements for any awkward transactions. Include the dormant accounts in your audit for proof of any intrusion. In the case of mysterious changes, you can demand closure of the accounts.
10. Open New Accounts
You won’t be at peace until you close all the old accounts. Your bank and credit card company can advise you on the best measures to guarantee security.
Most of the time, identity theft victims end up closing old accounts and opening new ones. You can be more confident about your account’s security with fresh accounts.
Know What to Do When Your Identity is Stolen
You now know what to do when your identity is stolen. The next thing to do is limit future cases of identity theft.
Frequent monitoring can trace any new accounts under your name. Try to enhance the security of personal information and secure your online data. These steps will help keep your identity safe.
For more tips and information, check out our blog.