Has your identity been stolen? 15 million consumers suffered identity theft in 2016 alone. That amounts to 1 in every 16 U.S. adults!
To protect yourself, you need to know the signs of identity theft. Once you identify that you might be a victim, it’s vital to know what steps to take.
The faster you implement these six identity theft solutions, the better off you will be as you recover your financial footing.
Knowing if You’re a Victim
How do you know if you need identity theft solutions? You need to know if you’ve been a victim of this crime. Sometimes it’s hard to detect, but some simple vigilance can make all the difference.
Pay Attention to Your Credit
You can get free credit reports every year. Be sure you do, and examine them carefully. Make sure you recognize all listed accounts.
If you see any errors or are concerned by something you discover, contact the creditor and the credit bureau. Mistakes do happen. On the other hand, it could be identity theft.
Unusual Notices or Calls
Are you getting collection calls about accounts you’ve never heard of? Are you receiving mail about a credit card you don’t own?
Don’t ignore it. It could be a mistake, but it could be a crime. Be sure to find out as soon as possible.
You Get Unexpectedly Declined for Credit
If you expect a car loan or other credit account to move smoothly and it doesn’t, that’s a red flag. Something could be wrong with your credit report.
Find out the reason for the decline, and look into your credit report. You may find unauthorized accounts that indicate identity theft.
Identity Theft Solutions for Victims
Once you’ve discovered that your credit has been compromised, there are important steps to take. Time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the more money you can lose.
1. Report the Theft Immediately
The first step to making sure you get help is to report identity theft right away. You want to file a report with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-438-4338.
The FTC will let you know what the next steps are, depending on the type of fraud you’re dealing with. You may also want to report the identity theft to your local law enforcement, especially if you suspect the fraud happened locally.
2. Put a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report
You need to let the credit agencies know that you’ve suffered identity theft to prevent further damage. When there is an alert on your credit report, lenders will take additional verification steps before opening a new account.
These steps help verify that it’s really you that’s opening the account. You can put a 90-day or a 7-year fraud alert on your credit report.
Once you’ve closed accounts and resolved financial issues, be sure to correct your credit report to remove any false late payments or other black marks.
3. Contact Banks or Other Financial Institutions
If a specific financial account was compromised, you want to contact the bank or creditor affected. You may need to close a credit card, dispute charges, and more.
You will probably need a copy of your identity theft report and other documentation to resolve the issues. If you’re dealing with a credit account, you will have limited financial liability. Unfortunately, a compromised checking account may mean a permanent financial loss.
You’ll need to close any false accounts and dispute bogus charges. You can dispute collection actions as well, although you may need legal help.
4. Protect Your Social Security Number
If your social security number was the cause of the identity theft, you need to take extra steps to protect it. Did you know that with your SSN, a criminal can steal your tax refund or get a job under your name?
There’s more at stake than credit. You need to contact the Social Security Administration and notify the IRS as well.
5. Consider Ongoing Identity Monitoring
Once you’ve gotten your identity theft reported and are on your way to recovery, consider ongoing identity theft solutions. Credit and identity monitoring is important, but make sure they will help you fix any problems as well.
By doing some research, you can uncover reputable providers of identity monitoring and protection services. Be sure to do your due diligence — unfortunately, some thieves prey on those looking for this kind of help.
Finding the right provider will be worth not only the peace of mind but also the actual financial protection if something goes wrong!
6. Get Legal Representation if Needed
There are a number of steps involved in implementing identity theft solutions. Unfortunately, not all of them go smoothly.
If a creditor refuses to remove false charges, if a criminal has been arrested and used your name, or if you have suffered significant financial damages, contact a criminal lawyer right away.
A professional can help ensure that you get the resolution you deserve. You may also be entitled to compensation. A lawyer can help you recover what’s due to you and make your financial recovery easier.
Get Someone on Your Team Today
Overcoming identity theft can be a lonely process. It can be easy to feel like it’s you against the world. There’s no reason to face the problems alone, though.
Let us fight alongside you. We have been through this process before, and we know exactly what we can do to help you overcome this obstacle.
Don’t face the creditors, banks, and law enforcement officers alone. Contact us for a free consultation today!