Step 1: Call the Companies Affected by the Fraud
If your credit or debit card information was stolen, contact the company or your bank and ask them to place a freeze on your account to prevent further damage. Next, you’ll want to change corresponding PINs and passwords to ensure that the identity thief cannot access your accounts. Even after the hold has been placed and access codes changed, be sure to monitor your accounts closely for fraudulent activity.
Step 2: Place a Fraud Alert with the Credit Bureaus
Contact one of the three credit report bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to place a fraud alert on your account. Then, obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure that no further fraud has occurred. Staying vigilant and reporting any further suspicious activity will minimize the damage, and it might also help locate the identity thief.
Step 3: Report Stolen Identity to the FTC
When you contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report an identity theft, they will create a legal affidavit using the information you provide regarding the circumstances. This affidavit will be used to file the identity theft as a committed crime with your local authorities.
Step 4: File a Police Report
Identity theft is a serious crime, so make sure that it is treated as such. Take a copy of your FTC affidavit, a government-issued photo ID, proof of residence, and any proof you have of the crime to your local police department. Tell the police that your identity has been stolen, and that you’d like to file a report. Be sure to ask for a copy of the police report once completed as this, combined with your FTC affidavit, is your Identity Theft Report. This document proves to businesses that someone stole your identity, providing you with certain rights that will minimize future hassles.
The moments immediately after you realize that your identity has been stolen can be overwhelming. However, the sooner you take action, the more likely you are to reduce the damage an identity thief can cause. For more information, log-on to www.identitytheft.gov or www.preferredmutual.com.