Reporting identity theft effectively and efficiently can make a world of difference. If you have even been a victim, you understand the frustration, stress, and even the fear having someone else assume your identity. It happened to my wife years ago and if it should grab you also (or already has), use the seven action items to fight back, regain control, and learn how to report identity theft:
1. Get a free copy of your credit report. This will help you to see if the one who stole your identity has caused any damage. You will also want to contact each creditor of yours and tell them to be on the alert for someone using your credit card and ID card fraudulently.
Note: if you have not yet had your identity stolen, it is still a good idea to obtain your credit report yearly or so to make sure there have been no mistakes made.
2. Begin to log every detail, phone call, contact, etc, relating to your identity theft. Keep a file with any documents required to build a history using it as your " memory" when needed.
3. Get a credit report fraud alert. This is a free electronic service and will let your creditors know someone besides you is using your information fraudulently. Call each of the major agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to get this done. An added benefit to this service is that no new credit may be established without your written permission -- including yourself. (This then becomes a very nice and effective built-in anti-impulse shopping mechanism.)
4. Get a police report filed. Reporting identity theft to the police is important. I know, most police departments do not even respond to your house for these types of calls anymore and they will simply take information over the phone. This is fine as all you need is a copy of their report for the insurance company as well as companies that were defrauded who may require one of you. The police report makes the identity theft "official". Be sure to keep several copies in your file for when you need one.
5. Close defrauded accounts. Doing so will cut off access to the thief for further access. This also alerts the business that an identity theft has happened and can take their own measure to help you. As a matter of fact, it is a good idea to call each of your creditors as a preemptive protection measure to change account numbers and passwords.
The FTC (Federal Trade cCmmission) further advises people to follow your phone call to close a change accounts with a letter requesting the same thing and why. Depending on the situation, using a certified mail with return receipt is preferable. Be sure to keep a copy of everything in your file.
6. When reporting identity theft, file a complaint report at the FTC website. Doing so helps different law enforcement agencies work two catch the thief.
7. Keep up on the process. Be very diligent to protect the integrity of your reputation. Keep track of everything financial that you are connected with. Should you even suspect that your accounts or name is involved in something fraudulent, get on the phone, close accounts, and do whatever is required to protect you and your family.
Should someone steal your identity, take immediate action with these seven steps given above. Better yet, take preemptive measures to avoid this happening at all by really understanding how to report identity theft. For only $10.00 per month, a LifeLock or similar account might be worth it simply for the peace of mind. Check it out and let me know what you think.
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