With the crime of identity theft growing at an alarming rate, people everywhere are being forced to pick up the pieces after having their identities stolen. This includes, among other things, repairing a damaged credit report and letting the proper authorities know your identity has been compromised. If you ever fall victim to an identity thief, the following tips can help you rebound.
Contact a Credit Reporting Agency
Once you suspect your identity has been stolen, you should contact one of the three main credit reporting agencies right away. These agencies are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Whichever agency you choose to call is required by law to alert the other two agencies, so do not worry about calling all three. You will need the agency to place a fraud alert on your credit report, which will flag your report and prevent the identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name.
Review Your Credit Report
After contacting one of the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report, you will be provided with a copy of your credit report. You will want to take some time to thoroughly look over your report, keeping an eye out for fraudulent activity. This may include cards you never opened or charges on cards you never used. Also check over all of your personal information, including your name, address and social security number to make sure everything is accurate. Any fraudulent activity or incorrect information needs to be removed or corrected as soon as possible.
Repair Your Credit Report
If your credit report needs to be repaired, you should send what is known as an identity theft report, along with a detailed letter of explanation, to the credit reporting agency of your choice. It is also a good idea to contact every creditor or bank that has been affected by your identity theft, letting them know about your situation. It is a good idea to contact them by phone, which will allow you to speak with a person in the fraud department. You will also want to follow up your phone call with a detailed, certified letter. Ask each creditor or bank for the necessary forms to dispute any charges you did not make. They are required to work with credit reporting agencies to correct any false information that appears on your credit report. Be sure to keep monitoring your credit report to make sure the misleading information gets removed. Always remember to make and keep copies of all correspondence between you and any credit reporting agencies, banks,and creditors.
File a Complaint and Police Report
To help the Federal Trade Commission nab identity thieves, you should file a complaint with them. You can do this online or through an actual paper form. Be sure to include all the details of your case so they have a better chance of tracking down the criminal. It is also a good idea to file a police report in the community you live. This will alert them that identity theft is a real issue in your area. When you visit the police to make a police report, be sure to bring along all supporting documents and copies of everything, including the complaint you filed with the Federal Trade Commission. Police are much more likely to take the incident seriously if you have proof to back it up.
All of these steps can help you rebound from identity theft. Just remember to make copies and document everything that takes place during the often stressful process of overcoming identity theft. You want to be sure your incident is handled quickly and properly by everyone involved.