Millions of consumers have their identities stolen every year. And while it’s an unfortunate reality, recovering from identity theft takes both time and effort. If your personal information was compromised and you now find yourself a victim of identity theft, you need to clear your name and credit. Recovering from identity theft takes immediate action! Here are the necessary steps to take after ID theft.
Tuesday Tip – Recovering from Identity Theft
- Notify your banks and creditors: Reporting the fraudulent activity is the first order of business. You’ll have to close or freeze your account ASAP. Most credit cards have a zero-liability policy, but federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges up to $50. You’re not responsible for fraudulent transactions if you report your ATM or debit card as lost or stolen before they occur. But, you only have two business days after purchases or withdrawals are made to report the unauthorized charges or transfers and get a $50 liability limit. If you report the fraud within 60 days, you’ll have a $500 liability limit and unlimited liability after that.
- Contact credit reporting agencies: Contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and request a fraud alert on all reports.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission: File a complaint with the FTC. Complete the ID theft complaint letter and affidavit form. This, along with your police report, will serve as your ID theft report and will help you dispute fraudulent transactions so you can eliminate debt.
- Go to the police: File a report with your local police or with the police department where the crime occurred. Although this is absolutely vital, not all all states enforce officers taking a police report on identity theft from consumers. You can give them a cover letter from the FTC stressing the importance of police reports for identity theft victims. Get a copy of the report as evidence for re-securing identity and removing fraudulent charges.
- Follow up: Send creditors a copy of your ID theft report. Tell them in writing that you’re a victim of fraud. Ask for copies of the documents with the fraudulent transactions, and be persistent. It’s important to make sure you get a paper-trail of evidence. Make sure to send all of this information to the credit reporting agencies so the fraud doesn’t affect your credit score.
Remember to keep monitoring your accounts and change your security information even after you’ve followed these steps. The fallout following identity theft can be time-consuming, but can cost you much more if you don’t move fast. Minimizing your risk of ID theft by safeguarding and monitoring your information are the best ways to prevent becoming a victim.