My Identity Was Stolen! Now What?


My Identity Was Stolen! Now What?
It'll be okay. Take a deep breath, and read this.

On top of alerting all your banks, you should contact all three creditors — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to alert them that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. When you contact each of the creditors, you should request to put an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze on your credit report.  An extended fraud alert puts a note on your report that lets creditor know that they need to take extra steps to verify your identity. This alert is only for victims of identity theft and lasts 7 years, according to the FTC. A credit freeze is the most dramatic option of the two because it completely locks down your credit. This freeze prevents any company, even your current creditors, from accessing it. In most states placing a credit freeze is free for victims of identity theft, however some states charge you to place the freeze, according to the FTC. The length of the credit freeze also varies from state-to-state. You should decide if an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze is best for you.

Alert any company that has your personal information: This is an important step that most people forget. Identity thieves try to get as much information about you as they can, so this means that they may try to get information from any place that you’re a customer of. That’s why it is important to contact your utilities, cable and Internet providers, libraries, insurance carriers and any other company or organization that has any of your personal information. Even if a company or organization only has your name and phone number, it is still important that you contact them and ask them to place a note on your account to let their staff know that they need to take extra steps to verify your identity before sharing personal information.

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Follow-up with your banks, companies and the police: The final step that you can take to restore your good name is to follow-up with your banks, creditors and the police. This is an important step because you want to make sure that everything is done correctly, and double-checking or following-up can verify that it has been. One thing to remember is that you can’t fix identity theft overnight. It will take some time to sort it all out. Shira said that it took her more than two weeks to resolve her identity theft.

“It was more so that I really had to stay on top of it,” she said. “I had to go over my credit scores. I had to see if they used any of the credit cards. I had to change all my bank accounts and debit cards.”

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One of the ways that you can keep track of all of the identity theft information is to keep a record of it. “Get everything in writing and keep it in a folder so you will always have it if you need it,” Young said.

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