Identify theft can be a frightening thing. Not only can it leave a victim feeling totally violated, but it can destroy the person’s credit score as well. The harmful effects of identity theft can make it problematic to open new lines of credit, such as a credit card, car loan, or mortgage. Beyond credit issues, identity theft can almost destroy a person’s life by making it difficult for them to find a job (if there are strict background checks that include credit checks) or even be approved for an apartment.
1. Change all of your account passwords. This includes non-financial accounts, such as social media accounts, personal email, and so on. If the individual assuming your identity has access to your email or other personal accounts, he or she may be able to recover passwords to financial accounts, such as your credit card online accounts or the online account for your checking and savings.
2. Put an alert out to your bank that strange, unlawful credit activity has been happening. Also, contact one of the three main credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian or Equifax) and issue an alert on your credit card accounts. It is important to inform all the financial institutions you deal with and to keep them in the loop.
3. Look over your credit reports carefully and check for any accounts that you do not know about or items or services you did not purchase. This activity will likely be due to your identity being stolen. Be sure to shut down any accounts that you didn’t open, and attempt to dispute the charges you know you did not make.
4. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an agency that can help you if you are a victim of identity theft. Contact them promptly to file an official report. Be sure to also file a report with your local police department after you file your report with the FTC. When filing your police report, include any fraudulent credit activity and be sure to note that you already filed a report with the FTC.