10 Actions to Take as Soon as Your Identity is Stolen

10 Actions to Take as Soon as Your Identity is Stolen

Lyton atinga

Identify theft is becoming ridiculously rampant. For example, in 2017 alone there were more than 145 million Americans who had their personal information stolen. What is more, millions of other people fell victims of stolen data and information from security breaches on major companies such as Uber, Target, Facebook and JP Morgan Chase.

Although these kinds of breaches do not constitute identity theft per se, they mark millions of people as targets of the same. But what exactly is identify theft?

What is identity theft?

In simple terms, this is a kind cybercrime where one person impersonates another using their personal information usually for financial benefits. This includes opening a new bank account using someone else’s information without their consent or performing fraudulent charges on their credit cards.

What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

While many companies are effecting cybersecurity measures to ensure that user information is not stolen, it is prudent to understand what you can do on a personal level in an instance your information is compromised.

Usually most people would panic and depend on the company holding their information to make things right. But is that really the right course of action? NO. Protecting yourself from the aftermaths of identity theft begins with you.

On that note, here are 10 actions you should take immediately your identity is stolen.

  1. Lock down the affected bank account

One of the most common ways to learn that your identity has been stolen is when an unauthorized transaction occurs on any of your financial accounts. In this case, the best course of action would be to immediately lock down the affected account. As soon as you receive a statement from the bank detailing transactions you did not perform, you should contact them and ask for your account to be closed immediately.

  1. Find out if other unauthorized transactions have been previously performed

The transaction that attracted your attention may not have been the first one. The best thing to do is to scan your credit card and bank statements to see if there are any other miscellaneous transactions. Do this for all other financial accounts you have including those you barely use. Look at all old statements and root out any transactions you don’t recognize.

If you find any, immediately make contact with the concerned institutions and ask for the affected accounts to be closed or locked.

  1. Review your credit reports

A credit report makes for another important indicator as to whether your identity has been stolen or not. After you find out that one or several of your financial accounts have been affected by identity theft you should contact credit report companies such as TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and request for copies of your reports. The good thing is, you have the right to receive a free credit report every year from each agency.

Go through them keenly and find out if accounts you don’t recognize exist. If you find any, file a report to the concerned institution and ask fir the accounts be immediately closed.

  1. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

The next thing you should do after you find out that your identity has been stolen is to succinctly document the theft. The first thing you do in this case is to file a report with Federal Trade Commission. This can be done though the website http://www.identitytheft,gov. Usually as you make the report, you are entitled to a recovery plan. What is more, you should also be provided with prefilled letters and forms which you can use to file police reports.

  1. Reach out to the local police department

After filing a report with the federal government, it is now time to report the case to the local police department. This is, however, not a guarantee that the person stealing your information will be tracked down. It is especially difficult for the police to track the thief if the action was performed online on an offshore account.

However, this report can greatly help the police track down a local information thief.

  1. Consider a credit monitoring service

Many people usually consider credit monitoring services not a necessity until their information is stolen and misused. This is a service that basically monitors your credit reports and alert you when something does not add up or every time a new account is opened using your information.

In a case where your information was stolen during a company data breach, you may benefit from complimentary credit monitoring. Otherwise, you should really consider signing up for one yourself.

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports

After going through your reports and finding anything that doesn’t add up, you should contact the credit bureaus and ask them to place an alert on your account. This helps to notify other institutions that your identity may have been comprised. As a result creditors will be prompted to first verify the identify of the person opening an account using your information.

A fraud alert will usually last for up to 90 days.

  1. Open new financial accounts

This can be a frustrating process but a necessary one if you don’t want to suffer further damage. You may have to close all your accounts including those that were not compromised then open new ones.

This action will ensure that fraudsters do not gain control of your money in future.

  1. Modify your account settings

After opening new accounts, you should take a look at the settings to ensure that you leave nothing to chance. Create new and strong passwords for your online accounts. Consult your institution for any other recommended security measure.

Remember that your credentials are already out there and someone may try to compromise you again.

  1. Consider a credit freeze

Sometimes identity thieves can access your information by requesting for credit reports from credit bureaus. That is why it is important that you initiate a credit freeze the moment your identity is stolen.

This action will entirely prevent access to your credit report and, therefore, no one who requests it will be provided with it. Performing a credit freeze is usually free of charge.

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