The website DebtConsolidationCare receives letters like this all the time, “O Heavens! I found that my master card has been stolen from my purse when I had gone to a party. Someone took out $500 from it. I found it out when I saw the billing statement. What shall I do now? What shall I do to get out of this whole thing? I am planning to close the account. What else should I do?” According to their statistics, every minute, 20 people are affected by identity theft which adds up to about 10 million a year. To help people like these, DebtConsolidationCare has put together a list of 5 steps you should take if your identity is stolen. Check out the list, inside…
“Step 1: Place a fraud alert on your credit files and monitor your credit reports regularly.”
Contact at least one, but preferably, all three of the credit reporting companies and tell them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Also provide a “victim’s statement” asking them to notify you before making changes on current accounts or opening new accounts. You can reach the credit bureaus a few different ways:
Equifax : 1-800-525-6285; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian : 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion : 1-800-680-7289; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
There are also several other ways to get your credit report and a monitoring service.
“Step 2: Close the accounts that you know, or believe, are not opened by you or have been tampered.”
Call each creditor and close any account that has been compromised by the identity thief. Request that the accounts be “closed by creditor’s request,” a simple “closed account” can reflect negatively on your credit report. Ask each creditor to send you the transaction records the identity thief made on your account. Creditors must provide this service, and do so at no charge.
If you encounter difficulty getting these records, send your requests by certified mail with return receipt requested so you have a document of when the creditor received your request.
“Step 3: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) .”
You can file a complaint with the FTC online by filling out an online complaint form or you can call them at the Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877- 438-4338; TTY: 1-866-653-4261. You can also notify them by sending a letter to Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
“Step 4: Contact your local police or the police in that community where the identity theft took place and lodge a complaint.”
Contact and inform your local police department about the crime and submit as much proof as you can. It is recommended to supply them with a copy of your FTC ID Complaint form, your cover letter and any other paperwork that support your claims of identity theft. Once you make sure the police report contains all the affected accounts, send it to all the applicable creditors.
“Step 5: Change all your account passwords.”
If the identity theft involves your ATM or debit card, change their PINs. Add passwords to any account that doesn’t have one and avoid obvious passwords.