Worried Your Identity May have Been Stolen? Be Sure to Take these StepsMay 5, 2017
Identity theft can be a frightening situation and unfortunately, it can target just about anyone. So what do you do if you feel you may have had your identity stolen? To minimize the potential negative outcomes, it’s critical that you act quickly. At American Security Shredding, we want to share with you some important steps to take to stop that identity thief from their pursuits.
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
This fraud alert will flag your account so that any lenders or creditors know to take further action in confirming your identity prior to extending credit. It’s very easy to place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports and it’s free; in fact, you only need to contact one of the three agencies (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion), and they will notify the others for you. You’ll have the ability to request a free copy of your credit report from each agency when you file a fraud alert, so be sure to ask for this. If you find fraudulent items on your credit report(s), the simplest way to begin the dispute process is to click the dispute button while viewing your credit report online.
An alternative solution that is usually more effective is to place a security freeze on each of your credit reports. A freeze will stop all creditors, minus those you are already doing business with, from getting ahold of your credit reports at all. Any new applications will be immediately declined because without access to your file, the creditor won’t be able to review and analyze your credit. Unlike a fraud alert, you’ll need to reach out to each credit reporting agency to request a freeze on your files. You may learn more about credit freezes by visiting:
Notify All Institutions that May be Affected
If you have proof that your credit card was in fact stolen, report this immediately to your credit card issuer. If on the other hand your checkbook or debit card was stolen, your bank needs to be notified.
To do this productively, it really helps to have information regarding your bank, account information, telephone numbers, etc., already stored somewhere securely for quick reference. Obviously, don’t write this information down as that’s only putting you at greater risk of more information theft, but we recommend keeping a list on an online file storage program that ensures data is encrypted.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Be sure to file an Identity theft confirmation report as well as a police report. You will need to create an Identity Theft Report, and you can easily file your report online for convenience. The FTC will tell you exactly what steps to take next, which will vary based on the degree of the case and what type of fraud has taken place.
File a Police Report
Finally, you’ll need to contact your local law enforcement office to complete your Identity Theft Report. Make sure you request a copy of the police report or the report number. This police report and the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit together form your official Identity Theft Report. This report will help you greatly when working with the credit reporting agencies or any other institution the thief may have contacted to open accounts under your name.
Keep Your Social Security Number Safe
It’s important to talk to the SSA and the IRS if you have reason to believe your Social Security number has been compromised, even if you don’t yet see any evidence of financial fraud. A thief could be planning to swipe your tax refund or to obtain employment or health care in your name.
Always shred your sensitive documents before disposing of them. This is a critical step in preventing identity theft and one that is often overlooked. American Security Shredding wants to keep your identity safe this spring. Contact us to learn more about our document destruction solutions. Call 1-800-882-1979.