A Stolen Identity is No April Fools

April fool and Identity theftFixing the Aftermath of ID Theft

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 11 million Americans suffer from stolen identity each year. With the increase of criminals hacking into large consumer databases (like the recent breach at Target) the number of victims will continue to rise.

What to do if you are a victim of stolen identity?

  1. Keep accurate records of all your conversations and correspondence about your stolen identity, including dates, names, and phone numbers. Send documents through certified mail, and only send copies.

  2. Notify the three major credit bureaus. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit file. This will last 90 days, after which you may extend it.

  1. Review your credit reports. If you find any discrepancies indicating stolen identity, notify the credit bureau and the corresponding credit issuers in writing. Continue to monitor your credit even after you place the alert.

  2. File a report with the police. Provide as much documentation as you can and ask for a copy of the report. Remember to note names and phone numbers of all law enforcement agents involved.

  3. Report the crime to the FTC. Complete the “Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint Affidavit” available here: www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

  4. Close all accounts to which the identity thieves had access. Request that accounts be closed as “account closed at consumer’s request.” Otherwise, it may affect your credit. Request copies of fraudulent applications and transaction records. Change all your PINs.

  5. Stop payment on checks by contacting one of the major check verification companies:

  1. Inform debt collectors that you are a victim of stolen identity. Send them a written dispute of the debt. Include copies of your police report.

  2. If applicable, contact the following organizations…

  • Local postal inspector – If the identity thieves changed your address or committed mail fraud
  • Social Security Administration – If your social security number was used to obtain benefits
  • The U.S. State Department – If your passport was stolen
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles – If your driver’s license was stolen

Tips for preventing stolen identity:

  • Only carry essential documents with you
  • Be careful what information you give over the phone (including via texts)
  • Dispose of all receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, and other sensitive information through a professional shredding service.

What are you doing to keep your identity safe?