Unscrupulous individuals are finding it easier to steal the identity of unsuspecting consumers. Find out how you can deal with identity theft and recover from the ordeal.
You wake up one morning to find out that your identity has been pilfered. This is a very devastating situation. But, don’t get flustered. It’s not yet the end of the world for you. Identity theft or fraud has been a pressing problem for many years particularly with the onset of technology. Felons are able to get vital personally identifiable information illegally from the unsuspecting victim.
Authorities and the business community have been very aggressive in trying to resolve this problem. Yet, the emotional distress that comes with this quandary is something you need to deal with effectively.
The statistics have been alarming! A 2017 Identity Fraud Study published by a leading research firm, Javelin Strategy & Research said $16 billion was stolen from more than 15 million Americans in 2016 compared to $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims in previous years. During the last six years, identity thieves pilfered over $107 billion.
Secure your Personal Information
Even as it is practically impossible to prevent identity theft, you can still adopt precautionary measures in minimizing the chances to become a quarry. Keep an eye on your credit report from time to time and monitor your financial records like bank accounts on a regular basis. Don’t share confidential information like credit card details or Social Security card numbers. On top of this, don’t feel dejected and move on after you discover the crime. It’s essential to recover your financial losses at the soonest possible time.
Reduce the Damage
To reduce negative effects of the damage caused by stolen identities, here are additional steps to take:
- Close the problematic or affected account. Contact the bank management and ask them to lock your account while disputing any abnormal charges.
- Seek the professional services of a reputable credit monitoring provider. Breaches of databases are common so almost anyone is at risk for cases of identity theft. Certain companies offer credit monitoring particularly to victims of financial infringement.
- Scan your bank and credit card statements for possible unauthorized charges. Call the concerned bank or credit card company upon discovering charges that you did not incur.
- Check your credit reports for anonymous accounts. Request for copies from any legitimate reporting agencies and go over the accounts that you don’t recognize. According to law, consumers are entitled to receive one copy of credit report for free from these agencies annually. The official website to obtain this report is AnnualCreditReport.com.
- If you are a victim of identity theft, file a formal report with the Federal Trade commission or FTC. Visit the FTC website at https://www.ftc.gov/ or gov or call telephone numbers 1-877-ID THEFT. This Agency is responsible for protecting consumers against fraud or unfair market practices.
- Get in touch with your local police department for prompt and proper investigation of this crime. At the same time, request for a fraud alert on your account. This warning stays on for the next 90 months and informs any institution that your identity has been compromised. The fraud alarm forewarns creditors to verify carefully identities of persons who try to open your account. In fact, the alert may be extended until seven years although you may ask in writing for removal of such status
- You are also at liberty to request a so-called credit freeze cutting off full access to your credit report. By doing this, credit bureaus will not disclose your report to other parties unless you provide approval for this action. However, this may make it harder for you to get approvals for credit cards or loans.
- It will make sense to open a new account and credit card to stay away from more damage. This is a tiresome process but you have no other choice.
Make sure to implement additional preventive measures from now on like creating strong passwords and changing them frequently. Refrain from using passwords such as 1234ABCD that dishonest persons can easily guess. Your password should have a minimum of 12 characters and not include your name, birth dates, or the names of your loved ones.
Shred any printed documents that contain your personal or financial details. Do not carry your Social Security Card around at all times. Hackers and web-based crooks will strike when you least expect. Henceforth, it pays to remain diligent and cautious about all these matters.