Steps To Take When Your Identity Has Been Stolen
If/(when) your identity has been stolen, you need to take some quick action to stop the identity thief from causing any more damage to your credit report and your good name. Here are the steps to take:
Get a copy of your credit report immediately from a credit monitoring service (either paid or unpaid). We recommend CreditKarma.com. Review that credit report and with a pen, circle every bit of information on it that is not something you recognize. Look at name variations, trade lines, collection items, addresses that you have never had and who has pulled your credit report.
Call any one of the credit bureaus and put a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports. This means that no new credit can be opened in your name without the creditor calling you and speaking with you personally first. You only need to call one credit bureau because that one will inform the other 2 of them, electronically, of the identity theft.
Also, get a free copy of your official credit reports from each of the credit bureaus. A claim of identity theft is all you need to get your free credit reports.
Review each of the official credit reports with the same scrutiny that you have reviewed the prior credit reports to discover other items on your reports that do not belong to you.
Call your credit card companies and report the cards as stolen ASAP. By law, your liability is limited to $50. Some credit cards even waive that liability. Each company will expect you to send them a copy of the police report (see the next step).
Take your credit reports to the police station and get a police report. In your report, identify each item that does not belong to you. With respect to the officer, do not take “no” for an answer if they refuse to take a report. You need this report in order to get your credit reports fixed. Again, be as detailed as possible as to all of the items that are on them that do you belong to you or that you do not recognize. (Caution – Don’t play games with this. If you have a debt that is yours, do not try to get around it by claiming identity theft. The creditor will be able to easily verify that the debt is yours and then your credibility will be zero. At that point, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to clean up your credit. Always be truthful).
Get us the official credit reports and your police report. Let us write the dispute letters to the credit bureaus at no charge to you. Note, that we get paid only if we have to file a lawsuit on your behalf and we are successful. If we are able to get your credit report fixed without a lawsuit, then the credit repair is free to you.
My family member stole my
identity…..what do I do?
This is no joke. We see a lot of this happening. In our experience, its rare that a prosecutor will prosecute someone for stealing someone’s identity unless of course, it’s a major data breach. You still need to get a police report to fix your credit. You may tell the police that you have suspicions as to who may have stolen your identity, but you can decline to identify that person or persons. Remember, the goal here is to document that identity theft with as much specificity as possible so that we can write good dispute letters for you.
We only deal with identity theft that affects
your credit report and not things such as unemployment compensation or tax refunds
We only handle identity theft to the extent that it affects people’s credit reports. After all, we only get paid if we can successfully sue the credit bureaus and lenders for not fixing the identity theft. We do not handle identity theft that is related to the theft of unemployment insurance benefits or tax returns. These governmental units have departments within them that can help you if you are affected in these ways.
How Can I Prevent
My Identity From Being Stolen?
There is no 100% assured way to protect yourself from identity theft. But here are some best practices that will make you a far smaller target of identity thieves:
Buy a shredder or keep a box by your desk to take to a place that shreds documents. In that box, put anything that has any personally identifiable information on it. The box should be in a secure place that has little to no traffic by it in your home or office.
Get comfortable challenging others who ask for your passwords or social security number. When a doctor’s office asks you for a social security number, ask them why they need it. If you have insurance and a drivers license, then they have all that they need to get paid. They don’t need your social security number.
If you get an email telling you that your password is about to expire, block it. If you are uncertain as to its authenticity, then contact someone at the company and verify if they sent you that email.
Remember that the IRS and FBI do not communicate with you by email. If they have something to say, you will get a letter in the mail. Also, if anyone accuses you of owing money and demands payment via gift cards, you are being scammed.