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If your Identity is Stolen, What is the First Thing you Should Do?

Updated on October 27, 2012
With the internet, identity theft is really easy.  Be prepared when it happens.
With the internet, identity theft is really easy. Be prepared when it happens. | Source

Did your wallet get stolen or did you start seeing unusual charges on your credit card? You may have gotten your identity stolen. In some cases, it may be best to get a lawyer, but this hub will tell you what you need to do in order to keep your finances (or what's left of them) safe.

Do Not Wait

The second you see any signs of your identity being stolen, take action. Many people wait to see if the activity persists. If you wait too long, it will be much harder to get your money back and you may have to forfeit some in order to move on.

Report Fraud

The first thing you want to do when you suspect your identity was stolen is call the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271.

Also call the Identity Theft Hotline: 877-438-4338.

When you call, you will be offered a free credit report. Take it! You want to keep track of how this has affected your score.

You will also have the option to place a victim statement in your file. This is one way to disallow fraudulent activity to affect your credit score.

Call, Close, and Log

Get a notebook and write down the numbers, names of the people you spoke with, and any details of the phone calls you make. This will be helpful for organizing information as well as keeping track of who you talked to, when, and if there is any follow-up needed.

Call all of the banks that you have an account at and tell them that you have been a victim of identity fraud. Even if an account at a certain bank wasn't tampered with, you will want them to know just in case the jerk who stole your identity also took down your other information.

Calling your banks may be difficult if you don't have the right information. Make sure you have the right number and if you cannot get through because you don't know your card number or account number, call a different department. They will transfer you, but make sure to also write down the connecting number.

When you call your bank or other credit agencies, you may be asked to provide a case number. You should file a police report to obtain this number, but do not expect them to solve the case. This is simply a tactic used to prove that you are not the cause of fraudulent activity on your accounts.

Useful Phone Numbers and Websites

Equifax
800-525-6285

Experian
888-397-3742

TransUnion
800-680-7289

U.S. State Department202-955-0430

U.S. Postal Service800-725-8777

Analyzing your Credit Report

Once you get your free credit report, read it over and make sure all of the information is accurate. There may be some outdated information or added information. There is a chance that the thief may have added or edited some information to your report. Simply send the report back with edits and request a new one. (The new one should be free also due to fraudulent activity.)

Be sure to make copies of everything you send out and keep it with your log notebook. If you want to regain control of your finances, you need to stay organized.

Affidavit

You will have to file an affidavit with the notary public for every account involved in the theft. This is a sworn statement that says you didn't have anything to do with the fraudulent activity.

Get it notarized. You may have to pay a fee. Generally this fee is less than $30.

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    • brittanytodd profile image
      Author

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Thank you so much, Derdrie. I hope it comes in handy to those who have to use it, but also hope no one ever does.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      Brittany: What cogent, practical help you offer to anyone who experiences identity theft! It is most reassuring the way in which you walk your readers through the steps of what needs to be done. It makes the whole process less debilitating in its strangeness. It is most thoughtful to emphasize the role of the credit report as well as to include the helpful video at the end.

      Thank you for sharing, voted up, etc.,

      Derdriu

    • brittanytodd profile image
      Author

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Beth, thank you! Let's hope we all don't.

      tnvrstar, Thank you for reading and voting!

    • tnvrstar profile image

      tnvrstar 5 years ago from doha, qatar

      Great Hub. voted up

    • Beth Pipe profile image

      Beth Pipe 5 years ago from Cumbria, UK

      Really useful advice - in a nice way, I hope I never need to use it. Thank you.

    • brittanytodd profile image
      Author

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Thank you, Denise. I started me 30 in 30 today actually. Thanks for the comment!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      OMG--that is one scary statistic! I know tons of people (mostly older folks) who refuse to do anything on the internet b/c of fear of ID theft.

      Good hub. Good luck in the challenge. Odd, I thought you had joined a few hubs back? :)

    • brittanytodd profile image
      Author

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Thank you! Let's hope you don't have to use it.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 5 years ago from Texas

      Great hub full of lots of great information! I am bookmarking this one HOPING to NEVER need to use it! Thanks for putting all this together in one convenient location.

      Congrats on starting your 30 in 30. I'll be joining you next week!

    • brittanytodd profile image
      Author

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Thank you, nicregi! My mother got her purse stolen a couple of years ago and we needed to take action. I hope this helps people who are victims of ID theft.

    • nicregi profile image

      Reginald Chan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Good article. Whenever such happen, always avoid the waiting time. Make a police report as soon as possible is your best bet.

      Thought no one wish for such, but it is indeed very informative. Thanks for sharing.