Falling victim to identity theft can be an unsettling experience. Many people don’t know where to begin to restore their good name and credit, what to do or who to call.
With more than 13 million identity theft victims a year, there’s a good chance this crime could impact you. There are five important steps to take when identity theft strikes or to avoid fraud susceptibility:
- File a police report – This is the first step to take if there is any indication of identity theft. Many fraud departments will require a copy of this report to validate your status as an identity theft victim.
- Place a fraud alert with credit bureaus – Fraud alerts signal creditors to verify a person’s identity before authorizing a new credit account in his/her name. You can place renewable 90-day fraud alerts offered by Experian at 888-397-3742, Equifax at 800-525-6285 and TransUnion at 800-680-7289.
- Get a free credit report – Review your credit at no cost by contacting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Monitor all credit and debit card activity – Do this sooner rather than later. Tip: This will go faster if you keep an up-to-date list of credit and debit cards at home in a secure location.
- Contact banks immediately – Be sure to freeze or close checking accounts and any other connected accounts. Request stop payments on all stolen check numbers. Open a new account with a new number, and make all requests in writing.
- Contact other providers – Call insurance carriers, libraries, gyms and any other locations where you may have a membership.