Identity thieves take advantage of everyday opportunities to discover your personal information and use it to commit fraud or other crimes. The good news is a victim of identity theft has more options today than ever before. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are four important actions you can take to minimize the credit damage caused by circumstances beyond your control.
1. Contact any of the three major credit bureaus. Speak to someone in the fraud department and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two will automatically place one on your report as well. With a fraud alert in place, creditors must contact you before opening any new accounts in your name or changing any details of your existing accounts. Million Dollar Ideas
Then request a free copy of your credit report from each one. Review all of your credit information looking for unauthorized accounts, charges, or changes. Check the accuracy of your name, address, phone number, Social Security number (SSN), past employers, and any other personal information. Request any inaccuracies be corrected by notifying the bureaus by phone and follow up in writing by using certified mail, return receipt requested, so you will have documentation of all requests and responses by the bureaus. The addresses for each bureau are listed at the end of this article.
Continue to check your reports every few months, especially in the first year after you have lost your personal information. Cool XXL
2. Contact the creditors for the accounts that have been altered or opened without your permission. This includes bank accounts, credit card companies, lenders, utilities, phone companies, Internet service providers, and any other services that may be opened fraudulently. Contact the company’s fraud department b phone and follow up with a letter. Million Dollar Ideas
The FTC offers the “ID Theft Affidavit” to dispute new accounts, available at www.ftc.gov . To dispute charges on existing accounts, request the company’s fraud dispute forms.
If you suspect that a thief has been passing bad checks in your name, close the account immediately and notify your bank. Contact the major check verification services and ask that the retailers who use their databases stop accepting your checks for purchases. To find out if an identity thief has been writing checks in your name, call SCAN at 1-800-262-7771. The three major check verification services are