A case of identity theft can leave you feeling violated and confused about what to do. The first place to start is to file an identity theft report with the appropriate agencies and financial institutions. From there you can get a handle on the situation and begin repairing any damage that has been done.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Three Major Credit Bureaus
Your first phone call should be to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It is a federal agency that is responsible for receiving and processing complaints of identity theft. It has trained counselors that can guide you through all the necessary steps to take once you’ve been a victim of identity theft, which is helpful when you feel overwhelmed. Once you’ve spoken to the FTC, your next point of contact should be the three major credit bureaus. You will have the option of placing a fraud alert, or if the severity of the theft was significant, a fraud freeze. An alert will only notify lenders that you have reported fraud, but it does not prevent lenders from running your credit. A freeze will lock down your credit, and lenders will not be able to access it, not even lenders you already deal with.
Local Police and Other Appropriate Law Enforcement Agencies
After speaking with the FTC about your case, they will advise you on which law enforcement agencies you should contact. In some cases, you could help an investigation already in place elsewhere. However, you should always file a police report with either the local police or the police where the identity theft occurred. Fill out a police report detailing exactly what happened, and include as much information as you have regarding the theft. Once you have completed the report, ask for a copy. This will come in handy later as you’re dealing with your financial institutions and other lenders.
Your Bank, Credit Card Company, and Other Lenders
Finally, you should contact all of your current lenders or financial institutions that you do business with and inform them of the fraudulent activity. This is especially important if you place a credit freeze on your credit file as lenders routinely access your credit file to ensure that you are still credit worthy. If they are unable to access your credit report without any explanation as to why, they could cancel your credit which will negatively impact your score. In most cases, they’ll attempt to contact you but it’s better to be proactive and contact them first. When you contact your lenders, ask to speak to someone in the fraud department. They may want a copy of your police report, especially if the fraud resulted in fees on your accounts and you are disputing them. Your report could also notify them to a specific scam that is affecting other clients. Filing an identity theft report can seem cumbersome since there are many different agencies to contact, but the alternative is to let your credit suffer and someone else to get away with the theft. By starting with the FTC, you can get a checklist of all the things you need to do to protect yourself and your credit. Following the list will help you organize the process, and ensure that everyone is appropriately notified. For more information on identity theft reports and how to prevent identity theft, visit us at http://www.identityguard.com.