No matter how careful you are with your personal information, no one is immune to identity theft. If you become a victim, there are important steps to take to help catch the thief and recover your good name.
File a police report. Report the crime immediately and keep a copy of the documentation. Agencies that assist in detecting identity thieves will ask to see a police report. It’s also important to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report fraud.
Contact credit card companies and banks. Call and notify your credit card companies and other institutions immediately. Cancel any cards the thief might use in your name. Also call the three major credit bureaus to prevent the thief from re-opening credit cards that you have canceled. The bureaus are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and placing fraud alerts with them will help protect you.
Write letters to dispute charges. Follow up your calls with creditors in writing, this may be part of their requirements and you will have documented your efforts. This will help you defend yourself against fraudulent charges so keep copies of all the documents you send.
Use online banking to monitor accounts. Monitor your accounts and check all balances. Keep an eye on purchases made. You should also check your credit report annually. If an identity thief opens a new line of credit in your name, you probably won’t find out about it unless you check your credit report. Each year you’re entitled to a free copy of all three of your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
According to the FTC, identity theft involving credit cards may be easier to recover from than other forms of identity theft. Consumers can check their credit reports, review their purchase history, prove their innocence and even help apprehend the culprit. Helping track your identity thief will also help prevent future attacks.
“You may be able to show that the signature on an application is not yours," the FTC's website claims. "These documents also may contain information about the identity thief that is valuable to law enforcement.”
Taking steps to guard your good name and credit are important but are not guaranteed to protect you. Stay alert, always treat your personal information as if it were cash and proceed carefully when detecting and reporting identity theft.
Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.