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Steps to Take if Your Identity is Stolen
Barclaycard Ring Public Blog

keeping identity safe.JPG

 

It seems like almost daily we hear about a new security breach resulting in Americans having their identity stolen. This has hit our family as well. I also learned of a business colleague who recently had a large sum transferred fraudulently from her business account.

 

What should you do if you are a victim of identity theft? Here are some thoughts from a variety of sources.

 

Steps to take now

 

Call the companies where the fraud occurredContact the fraud department and explain what happened. Have them close or freeze the accounts involved. If needed, change your passwords and PINs for these accounts.

 

Place a fraud alert with the major credit bureausTo do this, contact one of the three major credit bureaus. Whichever bureau you notify must communicate this alert to the other two. Here is their contact info:

 

  • Experian.com/fraudalert - 1-888-391-3742
  • TransUnion.com/fraud – 1-800-680-7289
  • Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance  – 1-888-766-000

Fraud alerts, which should be free to place, will make it more difficult for someone to open a fraudulent account in your name. Additionally, you should receive a letter from each of the three credit bureaus confirming that the fraud alert has been placed on your account. This needs to be done by each individual even if you have joint accounts with a spouse.

 

Get your free credit reports and review themEveryone is entitled to receive one copy of their credit report each year from each of the three credit bureaus. You can go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to get yours. If your identity has been stolen you might consider paying to obtain reports if you've already used up your one free report for the year.

 

Getting copies of the reports is a good first step, but this is not useful unless you review them. Be sure to look for accounts that you don't recognize. This will help in filing a report with the police and with the Federal Trade Commission.

 

File a report with the police and notify the FTC at their identitytheft.gov site or at 1-877-438-4338. The FTC can help with a recovery plan and filing a report guarantees you certain rights in the process. In fact, the FTC report can be more valuable in working through the process than a police report. You should still file a report with your local police department as well. Be sure to get a copy of the police report, or at least the police report number. The police report and the FTC report can be helpful in getting creditors to absolve you of responsibility for fraudulent accounts and charges made.

 

The officer who took our information at our local police station provided us with an excellent booklet from the FTC, “Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan.” You might consider contacting the FTC to obtain a copy.

 

Formally contact all three credit reporting agencies. Use the police and/or the report from the FTC to notify each of the three main credit bureaus that you were the victim of identity theft. This should help keep the fraudulent accounts from appearing on your credit report.

 

 

Other steps to take

 

Place a credit freeze on your reports. This locks down your credit report and prevents the credit bureaus from releasing your credit report, making it difficult for fraudsters to open new accounts using your information.

Depending upon which state you live in, it might cost as much as $10 to place the freeze at each of the three bureaus. There would also potentially be a charge each time you want to unfreeze the reports which you would need to do if applying for new credit, a mortgage, etc.

 

Contact each business or institution and close the fraudulent accounts. Be sure to keep track of all conversations including the name and contact information for each person you spoke with. Be sure to request a letter confirming that the account was closed, that you are not liable for any of the charges made and that the account was removed from your credit report.

 

Correct your credit report. Your FTC identity theft report can be helpful here. Contact each of the three major credit bureaus and ask them to correct your credit report and to block the information from the fraudulent accounts from appearing on your credit report in the future.

 

Correct your credit report. Your FTC identity theft report can be helpful here. Contact each of the three major credit bureaus and ask them to correct your credit report and to block the information from the fraudulent accounts from appearing on your credit report in the future.

 

 

Contact the Social Security fraud hotline. They can be contacted in a variety of ways. Here is a link to the site. This is important if your Social Security number has been used fraudulently.

 

Change your passwords. If your account doesn't have a password, put one on it. Change existing passwords and be sure not to use obvious ones like a birthdate or others that would be easy for fraudsters to find. Moreover, use strong and unique passwords. Use a different password for each account and use complex, strong passwords including a variety letters, symbols, number and even phrases.

 

Enable two-factor verification. This essentially a two-step login process for logging in to your bank account, online email and other accounts. In addition to your password (or biometrics), there will be a unique code sent to your cell phone each time you log in to the account. It may be a bit of a pain, but any inconvenience is far less than dealing with the aftermath of identity theft.

 

 

 

Summary

With our online society, identity theft and fraud are facts of life. Taking steps to protect yourself and make it harder for thieves to steal your identity is a wise move for all of us. If your identity is stolen, be sure to act quickly and to stay on top of the situation to ensure that the thieves do not inflict further damage.

 

 

 

*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Roger Wohlner and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.

 Image credit: Shutterstock

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