It happened to me once. While out shopping, someone bumped into me. I didn’t think much about it until I went tocheck out and my wallet was missing! With my heart pounding, I rushed back to the office to cancel all mycredit cards and to try to prevent identity theft. I was lucky. The only charge was for gas on my fuel credit card before I had reachedthe company. My identity remainedintact.
But what steps would I have taken if that had not been theend of it? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)has a four-step plan you should undertake as soon as you suspect fraudulentactivity has taken place with your identity.
First, immediately file a fraudalert on all three of the major consumer credit reporting companies. They are: TransUnion (800-680-7289), Equifax(888-766-0008) and Experian (888-397-3742). As long as you notify at least one of the companies, it is required toalert the other two. After the alert hasbeen filed, request a free copy of your credit report from each of thecompanies. Review each one thoroughlyfor any suspicious activity. If you findany incorrect or fraudulent information, write a letter correcting it. Continue to monitor your credit history atleast annually.
Second, close any accounts thatwere fraudulently opened or were used or tampered with. In order to do that, contact the frauddepartment of the financial institution that issued the credit. Call and then follow up in writing with proofof the fraud, including any written documentation that supports your claim.
Third, contact your local policedepartment. The police report can serveas some of the supporting documentation in reporting the fraudulentactivity. Additionally, the details youprovide can assist the police in locating the criminal and preventing the samefrom happening to someone else.
Last, file a complaint with theFTC. This also provides documentation ofthe fraud and provides a way for law enforcement around the country to trackand catch the thieves. Contact the FTCon the Identity Theft Hotline at 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).
Identity theft is horrible. I hope it never happens to you. But if it does, now you know what to do.