Identity Theft encompasses all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Step 1 – 10 minutes
Take action right away. Call the creditor to notify them of the fraud. The creditor should reverse the fraudulent charges and lock your account. The most you should be liable for is up to $50 of the fraudulent charge. You should have photocopies of you credit cards and credit contact numbers stored in a safe place just for this kind of emergency. Be sure to record the times, dates and names of people you contact in a log for future reference.
Step 2 – 10 minutes
Your next step is to contact the credit reporting agencies to report the crime and request that a 90-day fraud alert is placed on your credit report. You need to contact only one of the three bureaus to have fraud alerts placed on all credit reports.
- TransUnion: Fraud Report 1-800-680-7289
- Equifax: Fraud Report 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: Fraud Report 1-888-397-3742
This 90-day alert will notify creditors that you may be a victim of fraud and advise them to verify your identity before opening any new accounts. This alert entitles you to a free credit report from each bureau for your review. Fraud resolution experts with the credit reporting agencies can also help you check your credit data for other signs of identity theft and can help you restore your account security. Don’t forget to record the results of your contacts in your log and work with your creditors and credit reporting agencies to dispute any fraudulent records.
Step 3 – 10 minutes
Your last ten minutes should be spent on the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site filling out an ID theft affidavit. Once you complete this worksheet, you can use it to report fraud to creditors and keep it in your records for future reference. If your identity theft goes beyond credit card fraud, you should also contact your local law enforcement agency to file a police report. Add copies of your affidavit and police report to your identity theft log and store these documents in a safe place.
Don’t let someone steal your identity.
- Purchase a shredder to destroy sensitive information.
- Install a locking mailbox.
- Review all your account statements for signs of fraud.
- Review your credit report at least once a year.
- Safeguard your Social Security number and be defensive with all your personal information.