Friday, July 31, 2015

Identity Theft: What to do when You are a Victim

If you have been a victim of identity theft, resolving the issue is not as easy as reporting a stolen car or other possession.  The crime can have many components, and resolving it is a multi-step process.  Here is some advice to help the process go smoothly.

First you want to get a copy of your credit report and close any accounts that you think have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.  Contact the security or fraud department of each company to report and dispute the fraudulent charges or accounts.  Follow up in writing with a dispute letter and other documents supporting your claim.

Report the crime to the police, but try to have an understanding of what they can and cannot do.  A police report can be a valuable tool for resolving fraudulent debts and cleaning up your credit report, but because the crime has so many components and is often perpetrated from a distance, it can be difficult to investigate. 

You can find an ID Theft Affidavit online form the Federal Trade Commission, and should fill this out before you file your police report.  Gather other relevant documents and information before you go, including:
  • When and how you discovered the theft.
  • Locations where fraudulent applications were submitted and/or purchases made.
  • Locations listed as home addresses on fraudulent applications.
  • Entire account numbers of accounts opened fraudulently or tampered with.
  • Dates of applications and/or purchases.
  • Photocopies of any documents or correspondence regarding the case.
The more information that you can provide in a calm and organized manner can increase the likelihood that your case will be investigated.

Keep a log of all phone calls and other correspondence between companies, investigators, and anyone else relevant to the case.  When you are asked to turn over any documents, be sure to keep copies for yourself.

Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report and enroll in a credit monitoring service.  Once your social security number has been compromised, you never know how many times it may have been sold so you need to be especially vigilant in monitoring your credit report.

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