by Julie Myhre for GalTime.com
If you were one of the 32,000 people that have their identity stolen each day, the first thing you need to do is not panic. Identity theft is a terrifying thing that impacted more than 12 million people in 2012, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. There are steps that you can take to stop the theft, recover your good name and prevent it from happening again in the future.
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File a police report and file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: Once you realize that your identity has been stolen, you should immediately file a police report with your local police so they can begin an investigation. Previous identity theft victim Shira — who chose not to include her last name to protect herself from further issues with identity theft — said this was a crucial step in restoring her good name because the police were able to find out the details of the crime. “You must, must, must create a police report because then they follow through and they go back to where the original problem happened,” she said.
Besides filing a police report, you should also file an identity theft complaint with the FTC. The police investigation will help collect any information about the crime if it was committed locally or in-person. On the other hand, the FTC observes national trends in the crime as well as conducts investigations — of online and in-person identity theft — which can lead to prosecutions.
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Alert banks and credit report agencies: After you reported the crime to the police and the FTC, the next step is to contact you bank — or banks if you have multiple accounts — to make sure your bank accounts or credit cards were not hacked. If any of your bank or credit accounts were used, then you should close them and re-open them with new account and credit card numbers. Melina Young, director of marketing for Verity Credit Union, said it’s important to let your financial institutions know so they can begin working as an advocate on your behalf.
“They have policies and procedures in place and deal with things like this every day,” Young said. “The earlier they hear about the situation and start working for you the better.” Young also said that it’s always better to err on the side of caution because most financial institutions have a limit on the number of days after the transaction was processed that they can treat it as identity theft.