How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

August 20, 2014

You just discovered you’re an identity theft victim; unfortunately this is the reality for a lot of people. The next steps you will take are really important to repair your credit and identity. Here are the steps you should follow after you discover your identity has been stolen:

Before you do anything, call your financial institution and companies for which accounts you see fraudulent activity and let them know what’s happening so they can help you with your accounts and cards. After this is done, report the identity theft to federal authorities:

Activate a fraud alert: Call one of the credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax), let them know about the identity theft and that you want to activate a fraud alert. This company will contact the other two. You will need to provide personal information and confirm your identity to create the fraud alert. The alert will be active for 90 days and it will make it more difficult for someone to open an account with your name.

Ask for a credit report: With a fraud alert you’re entitled to a free credit report from the three credit reporting companies. Identify unauthorized charges or accounts and make sure all the credit-issuing companies are aware of the situation. Keep a record of all communication efforts with them. Write down customer service representative’s names, next steps and if you send letters make sure to ask for a return receipt. This way you can keep track of all the communication you’ve had.

Create an Identity Theft Report: On the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, the entity that handles identity theft, you have to submit a detailed inform about the fraudulent activity. This inform is called an Identity Theft Affidavit and you have to print it for your records. Take the affidavit to the police when you go to file a report with them and ask for a copy of the police report and report number. These three elements, affidavit, police report and report number make up the Identity Theft Report.

The report will help you to stop companies from collecting fraudulent debts, ask for a fraud alert extension and obtain information from companies about unauthorized or misused accounts.


2 Comments on “How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft”

  1. Constanza Arena

    This article is excellent in explaining what one must do AFTER becoming victim of ID theft but does not address the title of the article — how to protect yourself FROM ID theft. Also, it makes reference at the end to Popular’s IDCare program but gives no information about that program or how one can get it. At the very least it should have a link so interested clients can inform themselves.

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