5 Immediate Steps to Take if Your Identity is Stolen

According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research*, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion over the past six years. Events such as last year’s Equifax breach have further forced the issue into the spotlight. While there’s no question that identity theft can leave you feeling vulnerable, you can take effective steps to keep your personal and financial information out of the wrong hands.

Step 1: Notify any affected financial institutions 

As soon as you suspect one of your accounts may have been compromised, contact the financial institution immediately. Oftentimes when you call them, financial institutions and creditors offer an option to speak with a fraud protection agent in their opening automated prompt. If fraudulent activity is detected, closing the account as quickly as possible can save you from being liable for any unauthorized charges. Most credit cards now include zero-liability policies, but don’t wait a single minute to report any activity you don’t recognize. 

Step 2: File a police report 

After shutting down any affected accounts, file a police report. Be as specific as possible – list all of your compromised accounts, and provide any supporting documents you can. Before you file your report, also consider reporting the crime on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) IdentityTheft.gov[1]  page, and bring a copy of the report to the police station. 

No matter which agency you call, the fraud alert will be placed on all three of your credit files for 90 days. During that time, businesses will need to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. This may require contacting you, so be sure you’ve updated your credit report with your current contact information.  The alert will also allow you to order an additional free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. It’s a great preventative measure to take, and will help ensure thieves can’t open any fraudulent accounts in your name. Ordering a credit freeze is a deeper and more secure measure to take.

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