What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

A man and woman looking at a laptop covering their mouths with their hands

If you suspect someone is posing as you to spend your money, there are a few important steps to take in order to recover your assets and ensure the protection of your credit. Here’s what to do if your identity is stolen.

Make a Report With the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The first step when you suspect your identity has been stolen is to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC keeps track of identity theft cases and archives the information in order to help authorities catch thieves. The FTC will also send you a plan to help recover from identity theft and ensure you lose the least money possible.

Contact the Authorities (i.e. the Police and Your Bank)

Next, it’s important to contact the police and alert them of the identity theft. This may not immediately land the perpetrator in jail, as hackers can be overseas and difficult to track. However, it’s important to ensure that authorities are aware of the situation. That way if a thief commits a crime under your identity, you will have concrete evidence of reporting identity theft.
It’s also important to contact your bank. Your bank needs to know that there is the possibility that your accounts are in jeopardy, and they may offer some safeguards or next steps that you are able to follow in order to help ease the headache of identity theft.

Contact the IRS and Your Insurance Company

Filing a report with the IRS is an important step to recovering from identity theft. They can create a complete and detailed report which you can use to prove the theft. If you are traveling, this could be necessary. It is also necessary when you open new accounts after a theft.

You also need to reach out and alert your insurers, as some thieves will use your medical care plan when visiting a doctor or hospital. If your insurers know that you have been a victim of identity theft, they can ensure someone impersonating you doesn’t take advantage of your healthcare.

Review Your Bank Accounts and Credit Reports

Sitting down and reading through your past transactions and reading through your credit report is extremely important if you suspect your identity has been stolen. There are many clues to look at throughout the bank statements, such as a transaction made that you are positive was not by you. If you see that someone has attempted to open a credit account under your name and you do not recall doing that, that is another serious red flag that needs to be reported.

Freeze Your Credit

Freezing your credit prevents identity thieves from further damaging your credit. When you freeze your credit, the credit bureaus can not release any information on your credit report with your consent. This way, no one can access your credit file so no new loans or accounts can be opened.

Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports and Sign up for a Credit Monitoring Service

Placing a fraud alert on your credit report alerts the three credit bureaus that there is a possibility your identity and personal information have been infringed. They, in turn, ensure that they check your credit reports and alert you if someone is trying to open a new credit account.

A further step would be to sign up for a credit monitoring service. In case in the future you encounter another issue, you would be alerted to abnormal activity more quickly.

Change all Your Passwords

If you fall victim to identity theft, it’s a good idea to change all passwords across your online bank accounts and email accounts. This can prevent the thief from accessing further information and funds.

Open New Accounts

Since someone has accessed all your information, it is important to work with your financial institutions in order to open new accounts and transfer money. This will allow you some peace of mind as well as protecting your funds.

Don’t wait to get out of debt! Read this: A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide to Get Out of Debt.