Identity theft is a real problem in the United States. According to AARP, a new identity theft victim is born every two seconds. If you think you aren’t likely to experience identity theft, think again. There is no sure-fire way to prevent it from happening, even if you enlist the services of an ID theft protection company. It’s likely that you or someone you know will experience identity theft at some point in your life.
Fortunately, you aren’t doomed if your identity is stolen. Here’s what to do if your identity has been stolen.
Get your credit scores
The first order of business is to request your credit report from all three major credit bureaus. Each report is a bit different because creditors aren’t required to report to all three credit bureaus. Getting each report is extremely important when it comes to narrowing down how, when, and where identity theft has taken place in regards to your accounts.
Everyone is entitled to a free credit report once a year. Simply visit AnnualCreditReport.com and request a report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Contact each of the three major credit bureaus
Once you have established that identity theft has taken place, and you have a good idea which accounts the thief is using, it is then important to contact each of the three credit bureaus in order to flag your accounts.
There are multiple types of alerts to choose from, and some require special documentation. For example, an initial alert can be placed on your account at any time. It can prevent the thief from opening an additional card on an existing account, or increasing the credit limit of an existing account. On the other hand, an extended alert is a bit more comprehensive, but it requires an official identity theft report.
Even if only one of your credit accounts has been compromised, it is still a good idea to contact each credit bureau and put a flag on your accounts. Just because the identity thief hasn’t used some of your accounts yet doesn’t mean they won’t.
Keep track of the process
It is absolutely essential that you keep track of all the details of the identity theft process. Every time you make a phone call, send a letter, or meet with an attorney, it is important that you document each instance in a log. You should keep track of phone numbers and email addresses so you can find them easily in the future.
You should also keep track of all the time you spend contacting credit bureaus, authorities, and financial institutions, as well as the expenses incurred as a result of identity theft. Not only can you write these expenses off on your tax return, but you may have the opportunity to take the thief to court if they are caught and identified.
Taking care of identity theft on your own can be a real challenge. Instead of contacting credit bureaus, spending money, and dealing with paperwork on your own, an identity theft protection company can do the work for you. Even if you discover that you have been a victim of identity theft before you sign up for a plan, some companies will still provide you with services!