When identity theft strikes you, even if you have tried to be safe, then you need to start thinking about how you are going to fix the problems created by identity theft.
The most important thing you can do is to act quickly. Identity theft damage moves quickly, so you need to stop the damage as quickly as you can to keep it from becoming even worse.
First, you should put a fraud alert on your credit report and get a copy of your credit report sent to you. A fraud alert will let creditors and others know that you have been the victim of identity theft. It will keep anyone from opening accounts in your name. To put the fraud alert on your credit report, you need to contact either TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax. The good news is that you only have to contact one of these companies because that company is required by law to contact the other two credit reporting agencies.
There are two types of fraud alerts that you can put on your credit report. They are an initial alert and an extended alert. An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. This is what you should put on your account if you are worried you have been a victim of identity theft.
An extended alert is on your credit report for at least seven years. In case you have been the victim of an identity thief, then you will put this on your credit report. The reason is that it will show companies and creditors why your credit may be damaged. You are also entitled to two free credit reports within a year of putting an extended credit report on your account. In addition to that, credit reporting companies will take your name off of pre-approved credit offers for five years.
When you want to remove the alerts, you will need to contact the credit reporting agency that put the alert on for you. You will need to provide them with proof of your identity, your social security number, your address and further information that verifies your identity.
After this, you need to call and speak with the fraud department for the company that has been affected by the identity theft. Send them documents that support the claim that you have been affected by identity theft. You should also keep records of every communication you have with the company.
Also, make sure you put a PIN on all your accounts to prevent them from being used or accessed by an identity thief.
Once you have done this, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you are sharing your complaint with the FTC, you will be helping law enforcement departments across the country track down identity thieves, thereby helping others who may have fallen in your position.
You can file a complaint online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft
By phone at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653- 4261
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580.
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