No one wishes to verify a victim of identity theft. However, if you find yourself in that situation, there is a need to take action. Are you one of those who have fallen victim and are asking “How should you respond to the theft of your identity?” Then take a look at 10 actions that can be taken by way of responses. We explained these steps in the simplest way ever and I know this will come as a relief to you. Read the article to see them all.
Research shows that about 15 million people fall victim to identity theft yearly. And such actions usually have negative implications on the individual whose identity is stolen. Therefore, it is important to take action to combat the menace and its impact on an individual basis and as a country. A stolen identity is usually a nightmare to the victim because the thief could use your information to commit crimes and frauds that can land you in prison. However, there are steps to take to cushion the effects early enough.
So, the simple answer to “How should you respond to the theft of your identity” includes filing a claim to your theft insurance, Federal Trade Commission, reporting to the police, freezing your credit account, and so much more. Read the complete article to get a detailed explanation of them all. You will also find the implications of identity theft here.
What Does It Mean To Steal Someone’s Identity?
In simple terms, identity theft is a situation when someone uses the personal information of another person for financial transactions. Some of such transactions include filing tax returns, opening new financial accounts, filing medical claims, and so on.
Identity theft also means using another person’s data or information to obtain loans, credits, etc. The information stolen could be your name, SSN, bank account number, credit card information, or any other vital identity information. Identity theft is a crime that is punishable by law.
However, it could take a lot of time and effort to clean up the mess that the fraudster has created with your identity. Therefore, it is pertinent to take immediate action whenever you notice it. See how you should respond to the theft of your identity in the next paragraph.
How Should You Respond To The Theft Of Your Identity?
Now, let’s proffer solutions to “how you should respond to the theft of your identity by explaining 10 steps in the section. By following these well-laid-down procedures, you will be able to regain your identity and prevent future occurrences.
1. Contact Your Identity Theft Insurance Provider
If you are already a member of an identity theft protection service or have an identity theft protection plan, contact your provider who will help you to go through all other necessary steps. Some of them are Identity Guard, IDShield, and Aura offer this service. If you do not have one already, you can check your workplace or home insurance as some of them have identity theft resolution as part of their benefits.
2. File A Report With The Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission FTC is responsible for compiling information about identity theft. It makes its report available to the FBI and other agencies that will pursue criminal charges and track the perpetrators. You will receive some prefilled letters and other forms that will aid you in the process of making a police report. Visit www.identitytheft.gov to file a report to FTC.
3. File A Police Report
Still on how you should respond to the theft of your identity, the next action is to report to the police. This will help the police to locally track the fraudster. If your identity was used in another state, contact the police of the state where the crime took place. Note: keep a copy of the report as proof of identity theft in the future.
4. Contact The Business Or Company Where Your Identity Was Used
Contact the fraud department of the company or organization where your information was used. Give them the report and other vital information concerning your identity including your FTC report.
5. Contact The Credit Reporting Agencies
Contact the major credit bureau and other credit reporting agencies to freeze your credit. The bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A fraud alert will be placed on your account thereby notifying all unions that your identity has been compromised.
6. Check Your Bank Account And Credit Card Statements/Reports
If the fraudster was able to get your account information, they could attempt to withdraw from your account. So check your bank account and credit card statement. Also, check your credit report for any unauthorized transactions. And report the same to the customer service department of your bank or credit agency.
7. Dispute Fraudulent Transactions And Accounts
After checking the statements, make a list of all fraudulent transactions and accounts. Contact each company affected and notify them of the crime along with your FTC and police report.
8. Freeze Your Credit Card And Report
Freezing your credit card and credit report can also be an added layer of protection when solving the problem of theft of your identity. This will help to stop the fraudster from gaining access to your credit card account and previous actions would not affect your credit score and credit history.
9. Contact The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
It is important to contact the IRS to ascertain that you have not fallen victim to tax identity theft whereby your name will be used to claim tax benefits. Contact the office and ask for an identity theft expert who will give you further guidance on what else to do.
10. Replace Any Lost Or Stolen Documents
Scammers could also get your identity information from lost IDs and documents. So, if you have lost any of your vital documents, quickly contact the agency in charge of it and get a replacement. This will immediately make the stolen document invalid. Some such documents are your Social Security Card, driver’s license, Passport, medical, and health insurance cards, etc.
How To Prevent The Theft Of Your Identity
Take the following actions to prevent future theft of your identity.
- Secure All Your Online Accounts by enabling two-factor authentications.
- Scan Your Devices For Malware And Other Viruses.
- Change the passwords to all your accounts.
How To Check For A Theft To Your Identity
Although it is difficult to know that your identity is stolen, especially if you haven’t got a message or email in that regard, there is a way to go about it. And that is through the use of a Credit Monitoring Service.
The Credit Monitoring Service will scan the entire internet for any sign of identity theft on your data. They help to watch out for any information that is related to your data online. Examples of such services are LifeLock and Zander.
How Should You Respond To A Criminal Identity Theft?
Take the following steps.
- Check court records and contact law enforcement agencies.
- Contact the state Attorney General
- Hire a criminal defense lawyer.
- Ask the law enforcement agencies to clear your name from their records.
We have shown you 10 steps to take in response to the theft of your identity. By following them, you will be able to clear your record and also recover lost finances and other damages that it may have caused.