Identity theft is an unfortunate issue that impacts millions of people a year. If you think your identity has been taken, it’s critical to act as soon as possible to protect your account and others attached to your payments and more. If you suspect someone’s taken your information, what should you do?
If you think your identity has been stolen, you should:
● Speak to Your Insurance Provider
● Stop Your Credit
● Order Credit Reports
● File Legal Identity Theft Report
● Notify Local Law Enforcement of the Crime
● Tell Your Bank/Credit Card
● Secure Your Accounts
● Speak to Potentially Impacted Vendors
● Hunt for Malware
● Add More Security
These will lower the risk of your information being further stolen.
If you’re interested in learning more about what to do if you think your identity has been stolen, you’re in the right place. The more you know about responding to this emergency, the easier it will be to get through it. From speaking to your insurance provider to adding additional security measures, every action matters.
First, talk to your insurance provider (if you have insurance). This way you know you will have your insurance on board with you and actively investigating the situation. Talk to your identity theft insurance to see the available coverage options.
If you specifically have identity theft insurance, call them and describe the situation. If you think you may have coverage through your work or home insurance, speak with the insurer to see if they can help. If not, it’s time to move on to the next steps.
Freeze your credit to ensure the thief isn’t able to open new lines of credit under your name. Call the significant crediting agencies - Equifax and TransUnion - and let them know you must freeze your credit due to a potential identity theft. Once you do this, the fraudster will have limited access.
When you call, have proof of your identity so they can freeze your credit. Typically, this proof includes a social security number. Once you’ve proven yourself, you will receive a PIN to thaw your credit once everything goes down.
Check your credit reports to see if there has been any fraud activity already. This information should reveal whether your identity was stolen or if there was a misunderstanding. Also, the more detailed you are with your record, the easier it will be for the authorities to dive into the case.
These can usually be ordered online, though in some cases you may want to call. If you are calling to freeze your credit anyway, it’s a good idea to ask for reports on the same call.
Next, report to the Federal Trade Commission and file an identity theft report. This group exists to help victims of identity theft who might incur financial trouble thanks to the crime. They will help ensure you’re proven innocent if possible.
You must head to the Federal Trade Commission website and file an affidavit. Once you do, you will receive a personal recovery plan from them and information on protecting yourself from something like this ever happening again.
If applicable, let your local law enforcement know this type of crime has taken place. However, do this only if you have valuable information that could lead them closer to arresting the person. For instance, you might be friends with the individual or have another clear form of evidence to assist with the case.
First, contact the non-emergency line attached to your local law enforcement. Talk to them about fraud claims. Then, bring all your evidence. Talk to the police about the situation and request a follow-up to ensure everything in their power is being done.
Let your financial institution know there is a potential for fraud if they haven’t gone there yet. They will most likely cancel everything for you. They will direct you to either open new accounts or send you all new debit and credit cards.
Look at the back of the credit card to find the financial institution behind the account. Also, many credit cards use apps where you can control their abilities with some simple taps.
Change the password on your accounts and ensure you add two-factor authentication if you haven’t already. These will add another layer of security to deter criminals from getting into the system. Security is everything with your information.
Make long passwords, store them in a helpful password manager, and use multiple factors to authenticate yourself with every login. It’s the best way to secure your account after a fraud or fraud scare.
Another thing to do is examine your software for malware. Hackers will use malware to steal money and access harmful software. An antivirus on your computer will come in handy here.
Antivirus software will look for cybersecurity attacks and defend currently vulnerable spots. Malware is a dangerous addition to your computer, and it’s critical to remove it as soon as possible.
Finally, add as much security as possible to your identity. Avoid putting too much information out there, change your passwords frequently, get a VPN, and use a second email address for ads and newsletters.
Related: What is a VPN?
Identity theft is no small matter. You can lose access to your finances and ability to acquire credit, which will quickly lead to feelings of despair as your world is ripped away. Luckily, if you notice the identity theft quick enough, you don’t have to sit by. Victims are encouraged to move fast from the first moment they notice something suspicious.
We hope this information was helpful. It can be stressful to notice identity theft, but there are actions you can take to prevent it from getting worse. From securing your accounts to hunting for malware in your system, it’s possible to be proactive when these unfortunate situations arise.
Nervous about identity theft? Check out our article 10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft.