Identity theft happens when thieves fraudulently use your personal information for their own gain. These thieves may open up new lines of credit, withdraw money from your current accounts or get your tax refund, among a myriad of other scams. Realizing you’re the victim of identity theft can be a scary, frustrating and isolating experience. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, it’s important to act quickly to protect your data identity. You may feel like you’re vulnerable and lost without anyone on your side. We’re here to guide you and give you the resources you need to regain control of your data identity.
Follow the step-by-step process below to take control and get on the path to recovery of identity theft:
1. Alert your financial institutions
Banks can freeze your accounts to prevent unauthorized withdraws. You should cancel credit cards and notify your bank to stop checks if needed. Make sure to change all your passwords, even for accounts not directly used to sign into your financial institutions. Make sure you have unique passwords for each account and don’t make them easy enough to guess.
2. Report the fraud to authorities
Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the fraudulent activity. The FTC will help you set up a recovery plan and provide you with an identity theft report. Your bank may ask you to provide information or forms from your recovery plan to confirm you’re not responsible for the fraudulent accounts.
In addition, contact your local law enforcement agency to file a police report. The FTC provides a memo in their recovery plan that details information that should be included in the police report.
3. Protect your credit report
Place a free credit freeze on your credit reports, which can help prevent fraudsters from opening new accounts in your name. You can freeze your TransUnion credit report online quickly. You will need to freeze your report with each of the nationwide credit reporting agencies individually. Free protections and resources are included with the Fraud Victim Bill of Rights.
You should also considering adding a fraud alert to your credit report. Fraud alerts can be done on top of a credit freeze, offering an extra layer of protection. Fraud alerts notify lenders to take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit in your name. There are two types of fraud alerts, initial and extended. Identity theft victims can place an extended fraud alert, which lasts for 7 years. When requesting to add an extended fraud alert, you also need to provide a support document, like the identity theft report provided by the FTC.
4. Review your credit reports
Check your credit reports for personal information, credit checks or accounts you don’t recognize. When you place an initial fraud alert, you’re entitled to a free copy of your personal credit report from all three credit reporting agencies. An extended fraud alert entitles you to 2 free personal credit reports in the 12 months after you place the alert. You can access your report at transunion.com/get-credit-report. You can also get your free annual credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. Free weekly copies from each of the three nationwide agencies are available online at annualcreditreport.com until April 2021.
5. We’ll help you clean up fraudulent activity on your credit report
You can dispute activity on your credit reports that is a result of fraud. Our online dispute process is fast, free and secure. Most dispute investigations are completed within two weeks, but some can take up to 30 days. While we investigate, continue to monitor your financial and online accounts for suspicious activity.
Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. Be sure to follow up with companies you’ve been in contact with as they investigate your fraud claims. Throughout the process, document every interaction with the companies and agencies you talk to, keeping a log of all conversations and names. Be on guard for suspicious emails and links in order to protect yourself against fraudsters. Recovering from fraud is a journey. We’re committed to helping you recover from fraud and further protect and maintain control over your data identity.