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Identity Theft Recovery

Despite supporting statistics, most people dismiss frequent identity theft warnings as something that might happen to someone else. As anyone who has been victimized will attest, that identity theft poses many difficult challenges.  A proactive approach would work best to prevent possible identity theft.

Assume that despite your sincerest efforts to safeguard your identity, someone has nabbed your identity for fraudulent purposes. Your next actions will critically effect the resolution of your identity fraud.

If you’ve either been victimized or think that your personal information has been compromised, you may need to take some time to analyze your behavior. See if you can determine how or when your information became compromised. This will help you amend the behavior that has made you vulnerable in the first place. Additionally, any helpful information you can provide investigators could speed the identity recovery process along.

In this case, you must keep important pieces of information in a secure location, you must know where to locate your documents, and you will need to file reports with creditors and financial institutions, legal and government organizations, and credit reporting bureaus.

Since identity thieves often look to steal information on , these agencies should be at the top of your list of contacts:

  • Creditors—if your accounts have been targeted, or you think your information may have been compromised, notify creditors immediately and take all necessary action, including canceling existing cards and requesting new ones with new passwords and PIN numbers.
  • Banks and other financial institutions—if your checking account(s) have been targeted, you need tostop payments on any outstanding checks you did not write; cancel existing accounts, and obtain new account numbers and passwords.
  • Collection Agencies—should you receive a call from an agency attempting to collect on a fraudulent account, inform them immediately that you are an identity theft victim, and are not responsible for the debt.

Next on your contact list should be legal and governmental organizations:

  • Local police office—be sure to request and secure official copies of the police report.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—this agency provides additional documentation and resources during the investigation.
  • Postal inspector—make this contact only if someone has fraudulently used your address. or stolen your mail. 
  • Social Security Administration—make this contact only if your Social Security number has been compromised.
  • Reputable lawyer—depending on the severity of the crimes and length of the investigation, you may want to consult a lawyer to keep you informed of your legal rights and responsibilities.

Lastly, credit bureaus may become your key to a more secure future. The major credit bureaus will supply one free report per year, but if you are in an identity theft investigation, they are required by law to provide more, free of charge. The credit bureaus can save you a lot of frustration.

Here are a few options credit bureaus can offer depending on your situation:

  • 90-day fraud alert—If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the credit bureaus. You only need to call one of the credit bureaus and they will notify the others.
  • Seven-year fraud alert—If you have been a victim of identity theft, this entitles you to two free credit reports. It is highly beneficial to provide them with documentation including the police report. These alerts are free to customers.
  • Credit report “freeze”—Free only if you are a victim of identity theft, deployed for the military, or a senior citizen, some states allow this measure to block anyone from obtaining your credit report. A special telephone number and PIN are assigned to you and you can access them to secure credit approval. Should you not fit any of the above criteria you will incur a small fee.

You will need to file and provide a police report. Send a credit report freeze request to each of the credit bureaus.

You may have been a victim, but you do not have to remain a victim. You can obtain help from many venues.

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