10 Things Identity Theft Victims Must Do

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"How did this happen to me???!!!" This is what most people tend to ask after learning that they have become victims of identity theft. In fact, there are numerous tricks those felons might use in order to obtain your personal information. Typically, identity thieves can be categorized into 3 groups.

  • Opportunists- Their tricks are quite primitive, and they actually don't do a lot of planning. They might steal your wallet, look over your shoulder at ATMs or rummage through your trash. Next time you see a homeless-looking person snooping around your garbage bin outside, watch what he takes with him.
  • Impostors- These con artists are very sly. They could file a fake change-of-address form with the post office and collect your mail. They could order unauthorized credit reports on you by claiming they're your potential landlord or employer. Sometimes they might give you a phony call and pretend to be a telemarketer. It could sound somewhat like this: "Hello, Mr. Pigworth. Congratulations! You have won two plane tickets to Hawaii, but first we need some of your information!" At this point, I suggest you hang up the phone.
  • Online Identity Thieves - Online identity theft has become one of the fastest-growing internet crimes in the past decade. These smart criminals hack into computer systems and hunt for victims with good credit. And sometimes, all they have to do is purchase people's social security numbers, addresses, credit history or even maiden names from some online identity search companies.

Once these thieves get a hold of your information, they could open credit accounts, apply for loans, buy whatever they wish or even open a business - all under your name! Luckily, the law will protect you from being liable for those unauthorized credit card purchases. The maximum amount for which you might be held responsible is $50. The woes of being an identity theft victim are not caused by financial burdens, but all the inconveniences you might have to face, such as having to take time off from work to cooperate with the police departments, gathering evidence to prove your innocence and making endless phone calls to financial institutions. Once you learn that you have become a victim of identity theft, you must act immediately to fix the credit damage and minimize all the hassles you might have to endure.

What should I do if my identity has been stolen?

  1. Get your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion). Read everything carefully. Mark all the accounts you didn't open, inquiries you didn't make, and delinquencies you didn't cause.
  2. File an ID theft complaint online at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. Use the identity theft information you have on your credit reports (e.g. the names of companies where accounts were opened, types of accounts, the account numbers and the dollar amounts charged) to fill out the complaint form. All these pieces of information will be saved in the FTC’s Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, which law enforcement officers can search as part of their criminal investigations. Remember to make several copies of your complaint for future reference.
  3. File a police report. Attach a copy of your FTC ID theft complaint with the police report you're filing. Make sure you get several copies of the police report; you will need to show them to creditors and collection agencies.
  4. Contact creditors and banks. Talk to someone in the fraud department and inform them that you have been a victim of identity theft. Close all the accounts that have been tampered with. Most credit experts suggest you should close other accounts that haven't been affected as well, so that you won't give the identity thief any extra opportunities.
  5. Request a fraud alert. In case you do not want to close your credit accounts, you may change your passwords and ask for a fraud alert from one of the credit reporting agencies. You won't need to contact all three of the agencies, as the one receiving the alert request will also have to notify the other two.

6. Ask credit reporting agencies to block all information related to the identity theft on your credit report. This procedure might not be as simple as it sounds. You will need to show them your police report and FTC ID theft compliant. After that, you may still have to do many follow-ups with them.

7. Request utility and phone companies to remove fraudulent charges (if there are any). Once again you will probably have to provide the police report and FTC ID theft complaint to prove your innocence.

8. Check to see whether your social security number has been used fraudulently.Call 800-269-0271 or visit ssa.gov to order your social security benefits statement.

9. If your check books have been stolen, you will also have to report stolen checks.The agencies you have to report stolen checks to are Telecheck (telecheck.com), Certegy Claims Information System (800-437-5120), CheckRite (checkritesystems.com), Chexsystems (chexhelp.com) and CheckCenter (800-843-0760).

10. Keep track of all your good efforts in writing. Save copies of all correspondence between you and the police, creditors, credit reporting agencies and debt collectors. Even if it's just a phone conversation, you should still write down the name of the person you have spoken to, the requests you have made, what the other party has agreed to do, etc.

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Comments 15 comments

questingspirit profile image

questingspirit 6 years ago from Philippines

Great article. Wish we had some of those organizations that institute some check-and-balance where I live. My credit card was hacked once - and although the bank reversed the charges, my name was used to purchase an item using someone else's card. Had to meet the victim in that case and told her that I was a fellow victim as well. The organization involved in that bogus transaction also wrote a statement saying I'm not culpable.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Oh so the thief used your credit card to buy stuff and also used someone else's card under your name? That is strange but I'm not surprised. They probably could have committed all kinds of frauds with your ID. I'm glad to hear that the financial institutions involved in the fraudulent transactions cooperated with you. Thanks for sharing your story, questingspirit.


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Great article with some helpful suggestions and advice. I have heard so many horror stories about this. I try to be vigilant and stay on top of this subject.

Sage


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks for stopping by, Sage. It's smart to be vigilant about this. Identity theft is like an epidemic. Even if you don't have perfect credit, some people might still want to steal your identity.


Raymond Tremain 6 years ago

Great hub you have here it has to be shown so others will know what to do, if they get caught.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks for visiting my hub and commenting, Raymond. :)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Important advice thanks.


SafeCard 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Hello,

Just thought I would let you know that I really enjoyed reading you hub page.

I found some very useful and helpful info in here.

Thanks for sharing this with us it is something we all need to look into.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago Author

Thanks for visiting, everyone! :)


SafeCard 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Very informative thanks! People should really be careful in the information they share on the internet.


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 5 years ago from Minnesota

Very insightful - thank you for sharing.


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 5 years ago from India

I never buy online and if i do then it has to be COD ( cash on deleivery) also i dont give anyone my phone number or name of my college or adress of home on social site or chat. you can not be more careful online with so many con people out there


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

That's very wise, Sweetie. But sometimes even though you don't share your personal information online, identity thieves can somehow find a way to get it anyway. They're very wily.


authentication profile image

authentication 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Very good information in this hub. Identity theft has gotten out of control, much of what you wrote here still holds true today.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Thanks for the read and comment, autentication :)

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