Identity Theft, Part II - My Identity Has Been Stolen

Aug 28, 2013

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If you suspect your identity has been stolen, there is help. The U.S Government has taken steps to ensure there is a path to recovery. Privacyrights.org suggests a few steps for recovering from identity theft.

First, notify credit bureaus and establish fraud alerts.

Immediately report the situation to one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. When one credit bureau is informed that you are at risk of being a victim of identity theft, they notify the other two credit reporting companies. Placing the fraud alert will flag your credit file and if anyone tries to extend you credit, creditors are required to call you first.

Equifax: www.equifax.com

Experian: www.experian.com/fraud

TransUnion: www.transunion.com

Second, contact law enforcement. Report the crime to the police immediately. Make sure the police report lists all fraudulent accounts and ask for a copy of the report called an "identity theft report" under the FCRA.

Third, inform the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the crime. The FTC does not investigate identity theft cases, but they share information with investigators nationwide who are fighting identity theft. You can contact the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338, or complete its online identity theft complaint form: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Always keep good records. When dealing with financial companies and legal authorities, keep a log of all interactions and conversations, including names, dates, and phone numbers. Make notes of expenses incurred and the time you spent in case you can seek restitution in a later judgment or conviction with the thief. It’s also possible to obtain tax deductions for theft-related practices against you. Be sure to confirm all conversations in writing so that it can be documented.

Don't give in. Though you may feel the urge to do so, do not pay any bill or portion of a bill that is a result of fraud. Do not allow any checks that were written or cashed fraudulently to slip by. Do not file for bankruptcy. Don’t worry about your credit rating; it shouldn’t be permanently affected.

Make sure that no legal action is taken against you. If anyone suggests otherwise, whether it be a merchant, financial company or collection agency, assure them of your willingness to cooperate, but never allow yourself to be pressured into paying fraudulent bills. If there are any such attempts, report them to government regulators immediately.

More importantly, protect yourself and your kids now. Take steps to educate your family about not posting private information on social networks or in emails.

Perhaps the most difficult part of identity theft is the emotional recovery. Remember that nothing is too serious to lose a life over. If you feel constantly stressed or have severe depression, seek professional help. Identity theft is frustrating, but there is help.

For more information on identity theft please visit the following websites.