Identity theft has caused a massive scare not just for the corporate industry but for every individual in the United States. Around 70 million Americans are said to have been affected by identity theft or data breach at one point or another. This is also tops the list of consumer complaints as filed with Federal Trade Commission for 13 straight years and odds are, it’s still going to be on its peak in the coming years.
Your information is sacred and identity thieves would do everything to breach every security measure just to tap into that proverbial goldmine. Identity theft takes in many forms and if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, here’s what you do to redeem yourself:
- Safeguard your social security number. If you think your social security number has been hijacked and put into compromise, then you must report this immediately to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). If you have some reason to think that your SSN has been compromised, even if there are no solid evidence yet, you have to report that to SSA because the culprits could be planning on applying for a job under your name or filing for a tax refund. You should also get in touch with the Postal Inspection Service if the identity thief filed for a change of address under your name.
- Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports. If you have indicated a fraud alert on your credit report, this informs creditors and lenders that they should verify identity before approving any credit. All three credit reporting agencies – EquiFax, TransUnion, and Experian – will be alerted once you report to one of them.
- Freeze your credit reports. This is also another security option that you can explore. With the security freeze in place, new loan applications will automatically be declined. This service is offered for free to identity theft victims, there is however a fee for those who are non-victims of identity theft but would like to freeze their credit lines.
- Get in touch with the Federal Trade Commission. First thing to do is file and Identity Theft Affidavit at the FTC plus create your Identity Theft Report. You can file these at your own convenience – online, mail, or phone. FTC will guide you on what steps to take on next depending on the kind of identity theft or fraud committed.
- Go to police authorities and file a police report. Proceed to your local law enforcement office to file a police report of the identity theft or fraud incidence. Make sure that you get a copy of the police report. The Identity Theft Affidavit from FTC combined with the police report will make up your Identity Theft Report. This will serve as your first layer of defense and proof that you are a victim of identity theft.
- Put a stop on check payments. If you happen to be a victim of bank fraud, put stop payments on your checks. Close your accounts and open new ones. Contact check verification company and get a copy of your file to check for fraud.
- Report lost or stolen ATM cards. Be sure to report any problems encountered with your ATM cards especially if you lost it or it has been stolen to prevent any unauthorized withdrawals from your account. Check your account statements. Close your account; get a new card and password.
Did you know that some perpetrators of identity theft are actually people you know, a Facebook friend, or could be someone living next door. This is a dangerous scenario for your family especially because the identity thieves are using deceptive moves to stall and steal personal data. If you have fallen prey to these identity predators, make sure that you immediately report to the proper authorities and financial institutions so that you can beat the villain at his own game.