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5 Steps to take if you’ve been the Victim of Identity Theft
Identity theft is the illegal practice of using another individual’s name and personal details to obtain their credit, loans and so on. It is starting to be an increasingly common problem in the United States and in the world in general. The reason is that fraudsters are finding new ways to hack someone’s personal details. Thus, identity theft is the case when someone takes your personal information without your knowledge and uses it for their gain. Identity thieves can do a number of things as soon as they get your personal data. For example, they can practice bank fraud, tax rebate fraud, telecommunications fraud. Or they can use your name to buy and sell drugs, enter a country illegally, or commit cyber-crimes and online fraud.
It is sometimes really hard to avoid identity theft. One of the reasons is that social media develops so quickly that it often makes people too vulnerable. However, if you know how to use social media wisely, you will hardly ever become a victim of this fraud. But preventative measures against identity theft is not what we are going to discuss in this article. We’ll rather be looking at the things one can do after an identity theft has occurred. Below are the things to do after you realized someone has stolen your personal information.
Put a fraud alert on your credit report
This should be your first step if you think someone has conducted identity theft. This is called putting a fraud alert on your credit report. It notifies your creditors and lenders to take extra steps to verify your identity before they extend your credit. You can place a 3 months fraud alert on all three of your credit reports. To do this, contact any of the following credit reporting agencies:
As soon as you place an initial alert, they will notify the other two agencies automatically. No need to notify the 3 of them separately.
Another option is to place the so-called security freeze on your credit reports. A freeze will not let the fraudsters apply for new credit. You can learn more about how to put a security freeze by going to the websites of the above-listed sources.
Turn to the institution directly affected
If for example, someone has stolen your credit card, you should turn to the credit card issuer directly. Or if someone has stolen your checkbook, turn to your bank.
File a police report
As a victim of identity theft, another step you should take is filing a police report. It would be great to get a copy of the report, too. Usually, the copies are not ready right away. That’s why it’s vital to remember the date the report was filed, the name of the officer who took the report and similar other details. You will need this information to fill in an identity theft affidavit.
File a report with the FTC
The next step to take is filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You should do this if you are sure your identity has really been stolen. To file a report with the FTC, you can call 1-877-438-1338.
Take care of your social security number
If you think that your social security number could have been compromised, then contacting these two services is a must:
If you doubt your ability to take all these steps without the help of an expert, then you could hire an attorney. An experienced lawyer will walk you through these steps effectively and will help you restore your rights.