Identity theft is the No. 1 complaint filed by consumers with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Since 2000, identity theft has consistently been a significant threat to consumers all around the world.
It is reported that 40 million Americans fell victims to identity theft in 2016. With this, there is a possibility that you could be a victim.
It is natural to panic when you are among the victims of identity theft. However, fear isn’t the solution to any cyberattack.
The solution is to take steps and act swiftly to mitigate the adverse effects and stop them from aggravating. So, what can you do after learning that you are a victim of identity theft?
Here are a 5 steps you should follow if you become a victim of identity theft:
1. Place a Fraud Alert or a Red flag on Your Credit Reports
Placing a fraud alert on your credit reports is more like putting a red flag on your credit reports to notify creditors and lenders they should set extra security layers and take more stringent steps to verify your account before deciding to deal with you.
To do this, you will have to get in touch with a reporting agency – TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax. By placing an initial fraud alert with any of these companies, the other two will automatically receive a notification.
Initial fraud alerts are usually for 90 days, and they remain free throughout the duration. When extended, you might incur a small fee. But, fraud alert services are usually made free to identity-theft victims.
2.Contact the Institution Directly Affected
If your credit card is the one affected, you should contact your credit card issuer to report the stolen identity. In the same vein, you should contact your bank if your debit card is the subject of the identity theft.
Do not wait. You should take swift steps, so your institution can move as quickly as possible.
3. Contact the FTC and File a Police Report
It is essential that you contact the FTC when such a case arises. The FTC has several identity-theft records, and the agency can provide you with the best information on how to proceed.
To give a detailed identity-theft report, you need to contact your local police department. You should also get a personal copy of the police report. The identity-theft report is vital because it will help when working with credit-reporting agencies and other institutions.
4. Request a Credit Freeze
As a victim of identity theft, you will be worried about your credit card and want to protect your assets. To alleviate these worries, you should consider placing a freeze on your credit file.
Freezing your account makes it almost impossible for identity thieves to access your credit account. Nonetheless, you can still open legitimate credit lines despite having your credit line frozen.
5. Protect Your Social Security Number
Your Social Security number may have been compromised during the identity theft. You should make efforts to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) (800-269-0271), as well as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (800-829-0433).
You need to talk to both these agencies so you can protect your Social Security Number.