What Do You Do If Someone Steals Your Identity?
For years we’ve all been warned about shady characters and scammers that are waiting to steal our identities. We’ve all been offered products and services designed to protect us from becoming a victim. But what if it really happens? According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of identity thefts is still on the rise every year, despite our best efforts to prevent it. In 2019, the number of reported identity thefts exceeded 650,000. This excludes reports of other types of fraud. Another frightening statistic is that in 2019, the percentage of fraud victims in a younger age bracket was alarmingly higher than those in older the older age bracket. Over 33% of victims were between that ages of 20-29, while only 16% of victims were 70 or older.
If you haven’t become a victim but want to know how to protect yourself, here are 10 things you can do right now. To learn more about some of the different types of scams used to steal your identity, visit our page on Protecting Your Financial Security. If you have children, you should be aware that children can have their identity stolen too. As long as they have a valid social security number, they can become a victim. Child identity theft is often easier because as adults, we know that we need to protect our identities, but we overlook the identities of our children. To learn how to protect your children from identity theft, read this helpful article from the Federal Trade Commission.
So, what do you do if you (or your child) become a victim of identity theft? The first thing you should do is to report it. You can go to Identitytheft.gov to begin the process of filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission and recovering your identity as quickly as possible. Depending on whether you have any kind of protection in place, you may have to start from the bottom and work your way out. It can be a grueling process and it can take some time.
Once you’ve reported the identity theft and received a plan of action through Identitytheft.org, here are some of the things you should do right away.
Run A Credit Report ASAP- You should immediately request credit reports from the three major reporting bureaus and review them closely for all suspicious activity. Take notes and compile contact information for any businesses that you’re going to need to contact to stop fraudulent activity.
Place A Fraud Alert- You can place a free fraud alert with any of the three major credit reporting agencies for one year. You don’t have to call all three of them either, they will report it to the others once they receive your alert. This can prevent any more fraudulent activity from taking place while you’re working on recovering your identity. The alert makes it a requirement that your identity must be confirmed by companies before opening any new accounts. You should receive a letter from each credit reporting agency confirming that they have received your alert and are taking steps to help you. If needed, you can renew the alert after one year.
Close Any Newly Opened Accounts- If you’ve been made aware of accounts that have been opened in your name by an identity thief, you should contact the companies and close them right away. This can prevent charges or activities that could otherwise pile up while you’re in the recovery process and eliminate some of the damage.
Call Companies Where You Know Fraud Has Occurred- Many companies have fraud departments that are trained to handle these types of situations. You can ask them to freeze any accounts that have been opened in your name until you can close them. If you already had existing accounts with these companies, you should request to change your logins, passwords and any PINS for these accounts immediately.
Once you’ve been notified that the fraudulent charges are going to be removed from your account, you should request a letter stating this. Keep these letters for your records in case you need them to dispute any charges in the future.
File A Police Report- It may seem unnecessary to do this, but it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions. You can call your local police department and file a report of identity theft. Provide them with a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, proof of your identity, and proof of the theft. Ask them for a copy of the police report for your records.
Fix Issues on Your Credit Report- You can write a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies detailing the identity theft. Along with your letter, send copies of your FTC Identity Theft Report, any police report you may have filed, and proof of your name, address, phone number, and social security number. Outline which information on your credit report is a result of the identity theft and provide as many details as possible. You can request that they block this information from your credit report.
There are specific steps you can take for certain types of accounts, such as utilities, government benefits, student loans, and investment accounts. You can find details about how to address those types of accounts on the FTC website.
The last thing you should do after becoming a victim of identity theft is to put measures in place to prevent it from happening again. It’s isn’t a one-time deal; thieves can steal your identity multiple times. Consider a product like Kasasa Protect to help guard your identity so you never have to face a situation like this again.
Citizens Savings Bank has multiple locations throughout Lackawanna, Wayne, and Monroe Counties. For branch locations and hours, visit our website. We also have a Customer Support Team ready to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 1.800.692.6279 or email [email protected]. Member FDIC.