Identity theft can happen anywhere, and the most common types of fraud are credit/debit card skimming, stealing mail, online hacking, and plenty more.
Sometimes, when you are at a coffee shop with your laptop on using the wireless, that gives people easy access into your computer system, making you vulnerable to identity theft. The worst part is that clearing your credit and name from these fraudulent activities can be quite overwhelming.
The longer you wait, the longer you give potential identity thieves access to your personal information and credit history. Early detection can be done by continually reviewing your credit report and statement. You should also implement a real alert system with your creditors and banks so they can quickly repair the damage.
Luckily, there are steps that you can take in the beginning stage of identity theft to save your credit report and identity. Here’s our guide at Identity Insured on how to proceed if your identity is stolen.
Find out what plan at Identity Insured is right for your family or your business.
Contact the Banks and Creditors
If you suspect that someone has hacked into your account, the first step is to contact your bank and creditor as soon as possible.
When it comes to credit card fraud, you are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act, which states that the maximum liability for an unauthorized charge is around $50.
However, debit cards, electronic transfers, or ATM are under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, which requires consumers to act as soon as possible. A stolen debit card or ATM card before any fraudulent transactions can get you out of the red zone for any charges made after that. If not, you will only have two business days after learning about the unauthorized transfer or charges with a maximum loss of $50. Fortunately, if you report the issue between 2 to 60 days after the fraud is shown, then you have a liability limit increased to $500. Unfortunately, you will have limited liability opportunities for reporting the problem after 60 days.
With all this in mind, you should understand why it’s essential to report suspicious activity as soon as possible.
Place a Fraud Alert
Fraud can hurt your credit report, so it’s essential to place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free and can remain in your report for one year. If you want to keep it longer, you can get a new one every year.
The alert makes it challenging for anyone to open your account. That means that businesses must contact you before issuing any credit, especially if fraud were to be implemented.
Check Credit Report
Once you set up a fraud alert, you will receive one free credit report from each of the agencies. It’s best to go through these reports to check for potential fraud, such as new accounts that you didn’t open, payment history that you didn’t conduct, inquiries that you don’t recognize, employers that you have never worked for, and information that you are not familiar with.
It’s a good idea to check out these credit reports on an annual basis to make sure that you are safe from fraud.
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Freeze Your Credit
A credit freeze will prevent the credit report agency from giving out your report to new creditors. You can contact the three credit bureaus and request a freeze on your report.
The strongest defense against identity theft is to place both a fraud alert and a credit freeze on your report. When you place a freeze on your report, the bureau provides you with a password or PIN, which is required to unfreeze your account.
Unfortunately, if you lose your PIN, it may delay your ability to unfreeze your account, so make sure that both passwords and PIN are in a safe place. You can place a freeze on your credit report for free, and there is no time limit to the situation. You can unfreeze your account anytime you feel safe or leave it there until the situation is cleared.
Report Identity Theft
You can report identity theft on identitytheft.gov. You will receive both a recovery plan and identity theft report from the FTC to show that your identity has been compromised.
It’s essential to have a copy of these documents in your hand so you can present it as evidence to the police and your creditors.
Go to The Police
After you reported the issue to the FTC, then it’s essential to present the report to your local police department.
When you secure a police report, it can protect you from further damage. Make sure that the police report contains all the accounts that are affected by the fraudulent act, and that they prepared as much document information as possible.
After filing the report, make sure that you get a copy for your own records, and to keep the phone number of the investigator on the contact sheet so you can contact him with any questions or concerns.
Remove Fraud From Your Credit Report
After you have sent the information to the police, it’s time to contact the three credit bureaus to have the fraudulent activity removed.
You can use the letter drafted by the FTC to obtain this request. Don’t forget to include a copy of the identity theft report and information about the fraudulent act. This can allow you to block or remove information from your report so you won’t be contacted by any debt officials.
Make sure to keep your eyes on your credit report to see if there are any changes.
Change Affected Account
Now it’s time to change all your passwords on any accounts that might be affected by identity theft.
When it comes to passwords, it’s essential to use a wide array of letters, numbers, and characters. The most common mistakes people make is using their birthday or duplicating a password from another account.
The best thing you can do is to create different passwords for each account.
Replace Stolen Identity
If your Social Security card was stolen, you could get another one online. Make sure to notify the Office of Inspector General about the fraudulent activity that is being used on your social security number. After that, create an account online to obtain information regarding your personal earnings and benefits statement.
If your driver’s license is subject to identity theft, then contact the local department of motor vehicles to replace it and report the issue. If someone is using your license, then you want to report that so the number can be flagged.
Contact Utility Company and Telephone Service
Don’t forget to alert the telephone carriers and utility providers in case the identity theft tries to open a new account in your name.
If the account was opened in your name, then you will have to explain what had happened and request that the account be closed.
Why Consider Identity Insurance?
Your credit report is precious. Excellent credit can help you buy a house and take out loans, but if you ignore identity theft, it can compromise your chances for these endeavors.
Fortunately, our Identity Insurance can help restore your credit and identity up to $1 million. Since identity theft can make you lose income and wages, identity insurance can pay out what you have lost. Any personal expenses that have been affected will be compensated depending on your plan.
Identity theft happens all the time. Practically everyone is vulnerable to it. Fortunately, there are steps to take to save your credit and information.
The first step is to notify banks and creditor, then put a fraud alert on your credit report, check your reports annually, freeze your credit, report the issue to FTC, go to the police, remove the fraudulent information from your credit report, change all account passwords, replaced the stolen identity, and contact the utility companies and telephone services.
Identity theft can affect your credit report; therefore, harming your chances of getting a loan and buying a house. Luckily, you can get your identity insured to protect your personal information and credit report. It can help compensate for any income and wage loss, restore your identity, compensate $1 million loss from fraudulent activity, and much more.
You want to keep your identity and credit report safe, and the best way to do that is to get your identity insured, so what are you waiting for? Get started with Identity Insured.
Read more about our SmartMoney Resources at Identity Insured to tighten up security for your identity.