How to Recover from Identity Theft

by admin on July 15, 2011

By Jacelyn Thomas

Identity theft is a scary reality that an estimated 9 million Americans go through each year. The key to recovering from such a traumatic experience is early detection and quick response. If you or someone you know might be a victim of identity theft, follow these four steps that were drafted by the Federal Trade Commission as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your finances and name.

The first step in responding to identity theft is to place a fraud alert on your credit reports by calling one of the three consumer reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian) on their toll-free fraud number. Whichever company you place a fraud alert with is required to contact the other two companies. A fraud alert will give consumer reporting companies a heads-up on your situation, as well as prevent the thief from opening up any more accounts under your name. After you place the fraud alert, you’ll be able to order one free copy of your credit report from each company so that you can thoroughly review it for fraudulent inquiries, unauthorized accounts, debts and any other suspicious transactions. You will need to make the corrections to your credit report and include an Identity Theft Report with a cover letter that explains the fraudulent activity and incorrect information. Be sure to keep a close eye on your credit report and check it periodically for new fraudulent activity.

Your next step in responding and recovering from identity theft is to close the accounts that you know have been tampered with. The best way to do this is to speak with someone directly in the security or fraud department of your bank or credit card company. Be sure to follow up in writing and provide the companies with copied versions of your supporting documents. Keep all of your original documents in a safe place. When you decide to open new accounts, you’ll need to use all new PIN numbers and passwords. Once your identity theft disputes are resolved, ask each company for documentation of this.

The next important step is to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which will help law enforcement officials track down identity thieves and stop them from victimizing others. Your identity theft complaint can even be passed on to other government agencies and companies that may be able to take further action. Once you’ve successfully filed your FTC ID Theft Complaint, you can give a copy of the form to the police. By doing so, you’ll be granted certain protections, such as permanently blocking fraudulent information from your credit report, keeping debts from reappearing on your credit report, prohibiting companies from collecting debts from identity theft and extending a fraud alert on your credit report.

Last but not least, be sure to file a report with your local police department or the city where the identity theft occurred. If you have trouble getting the police to accept your report, ask to file a miscellaneous incident report instead. Take all of the supporting documentation with you to the police and be steadfast in your attempt to dispute the identity theft and debts to your account.

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