There are very few things that are as troubling as realizing that you have been the victim of identity fraud. Recovering from identity fraud can be a difficult process, but it is made easier by taking quick action. The following are four steps that you should immediately take once you realize that your identity has been stolen.
Place an Identity Fraud Alert
An identity fraud alert can be placed by contacting one of the national credit reporting agencies. Once you contact one of these companies, they will immediately contact the other credit reporting companies.
The importance of taking quick action by placing an identity fraud alert is part of the security studies curriculum taught to students at the University of Texas in El Paso’s Security Studies Program. Placing an alert is free. Once an alert is placed, companies must contact you personally prior to issuing credit in your name. The alerts are useful for 90 days. Once 90 days has passed, you can re-activate the alert.
Request a Credit Report
A credit report will allow you to review all credit transactions that have been done in your name. The credit reporting company can also explain the rights you have when facing fraud. Once you know what accounts have been tampered with, contact the businesses that connect to these accounts. Direct your letters and phone calls to the fraud department. All correspondence that is done in writing should be sent via certified mail. You should receive a return receipt that you may use as a record of your communication.
Create an Identity Theft Report
Creating an identity theft report will make it easier for you to interact with debt collectors and businesses. This report will be beneficial in helping you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report. They can be used to prevent companies from collecting debts that came as a result of identity theft. It can be used to get information pertaining to the accounts that the identity thief either opened in your name or misused.
Freeze Fraudulent Accounts
Freezing fraudulent accounts prevents access to your credit report. The availability of a freeze varies depending on state laws and policies by consumer reporting companies. When freezing an account is not an option, a fraud alert can be placed on the account that will make it impossible for your credit report to be accessed by companies unless they have the information needed to verify your identity.
Being a victim of identity theft is frustrating. Thankfully, there are options available that allow identity theft victims to prevent further victimization and to get their credit situation back in order.
Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber