According to the
Javelin Identity Fraud Survey, there were 13.1 million victims of
identity theft in 2015… and experts see that number continuing to grow each
We spend a lot of time talking about how you can protect yourself from identity
thieves, but what if you are already a victim? The focus of this article is all
about steps you should take as soon as you suspect or confirm that your
identity has been compromised.
File a report with the police. Even if all you
know if that someone has stolen your wallet or opened new accounts in your
name, call the police’s non-emergency line and file a report. While your local
police department may not directly investigate your case right away, it’s
helpful to have a report to begin a paper trail.
Call the Credit Bureaus. Phone each of the three
bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) right away to report fraudulent
activity in your name by an unauthorized person. You should also request a full
credit report from each bureau so you can review each line for accuracy.
Finally, you should
request a credit freeze to stop any future accounts from being open in
your name and without your consent.
Contact your Creditors/Bank. Depending on the
extent of fraud you identify from your credit report, you may want to request
new debit/credit cards, PINs and change the passwords you use online to access
Keep a conversation log. Notate in one central
file every phone call, email, letter and document you engage in while working
to clear your good name. This makes for a quick reference in the event a
document is misplaced or conversations are not properly recorded on your file.
Clear out your wallet. Once you have a handle on
fraudulent activity, you will naturally want to be more proactive about how you
protect yourself in everyday activities … and what better place than to start
with your wallet. Take a hard look at what you carry and determine what is
required (e.g. a state-issued identification card) and what is not (e.g. Social
Security card.) Store what you do not need every day in a safe or locked filing
cabinet at home. Doing so will minimize any potential risks from a lost or
Invest in identity monitoring services beforehand.
Hopefully there is not a next time, but if there is, you will be better
protected. For a monthly fee, services like
EZShield Identity Restoration Pro offer dedicated support from
certified Fraud Specialists who guide you through the process of dealing with
fraudulent activity and restoring your identity to pre-fraud status.
For more tips and resources, read the Federal Trade Commission’s guide
Taking Charge: What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen.