IDENTITY THEFT TIPS
I receive phone calls, e-mails and letters from victims of identity theft every week. What should I do when I am a victim of identity theft is the number one question asked. The following is a quick list of the steps you should take if you believe you are a victim of identity theft.
1. NOTIFY THE AUTHORITIES
Contact your local law enforcement office and complete a police report. After you complete the report, request a copy for your records. This will come in handy when you discover inaccurate items on your credit report. Also, hopefully, the police will investigate your identity theft, apprehend the criminal, and help protect the identities of other potential victims.
2. NOTIFY THE CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCIES (CRAs)
You should contact all three of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. You should tell each of the bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. When you notify one bureau of the fraud alert, the bureau is supposed to notify the other two bureaus of the fraud alert, but why take a chance? Go ahead and notify all three. Provide the bureaus with your telephone number so potential creditors will contact you prior to extending credit – potentially, to an identity thief. The initial fraud alert will only last for 90 days, so you will need to request an extended fraud alert that will remain on your file for 7 years.
You are also entitled to a free consumer disclosure (credit report) when you are a victim of fraud. This right is in addition to your right to a free annual disclosure. Ask each of the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, for your free credit report as a result of fraud so you don’t use up your annual free report.
3. NOTIFY YOUR BANK
Your bank should be put on notice of the identity theft. Contact your bank or credit union and tell them about the identity theft. Your bank or credit union can cancel your debit card and re-issue a new debit card. This will prevent the identity thief from emptying your account. Your bank can be your ally, and can help be on the lookout for fraud.
If you are a victim of identity theft and you need help fighting back, then contact identity theft attorney Micah Adkins for a free consultation and request free information on how to fight back after identity theft.