Steps to Take If Your Identity Is Stolen

Steps to Take If Your Identity Is Stolen. If someone steals your personal identity, knowing what to do and doing it quickly is crucial. These days, there are so many ways cybercriminals can steal your personal information and even your identity. Phishing emails, smishing texts, and malware are the most common ways criminals can do this.

A hacker sits in a dark room illuminated by the light from his computer screen.
A hacker sits in a dark room illuminated by the light from his computer screen.

However, if you act quickly, you’ll be able to minimize the damage identity theft can cause you. That is why today we will discuss steps to take if your identity is stolen.

How Can Someone Steal Your Identity?

A security breach in and of itself does not constitute identity theft. However, not all forms of fraud qualify as such. Instead, identity theft occurs when a criminal utilizes stolen personal data to impersonate the victim in order to gain access to financial resources (such as bank accounts) or government benefits (such as tax refunds or medical payments). It’s a severe offense that may drain your resources. Not to mention that fixing it could take a long time and a lot of work.

Steps to Take If Your Identity Is Stolen

With that in mind, the following is what you need to do to fix this problem when it occurs.

Alert the Institution That Originally Supplied Your Compromised Credentials

You should report a stolen ID to any issuing agency without delay. Talk to your bank if you suspect a security compromise on your account. Notify the credit card company immediately if you suspect your credit card number has been compromised. If you suspect that someone got a hold of your Social Security number, you should contact the Social Security Administration immediately.

Freeze Your Credit Report

Put a freeze or fraud alert on your credit report by contacting the three main bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These practical resources don’t cost anything and won’t impact your credit rating in any way. Putting a freeze on your credit prevents thieves from accessing your account information. As a result, if you apply for a mortgage but have a freeze on your credit report, the lender will not be able to get your credit report until you release the hold. This is not always the case, however. Prospective employers and landlords might still see your credit report, as well as a collection agency acting on behalf of a corporation to whom you owe money, and federal, state, and local government authorities.

 

Explore the specifics of the freeze as reported by the various registries. A credit freeze will not prevent checks of your credit history from the credit monitoring provider you have selected. You may put a fraud warning on your credit report for a period of one year. If you do this, potential creditors will need to speak with you to verify your identity before extending credit. And while this may be a bit of a hassle, you can be sure that your credit score will not drop due to this.

Check Your Credit Report

The next step is to review your credit record for any suspicious activity. After you put up a fraud alert, you will receive one free credit report. Once you receive the report, you should check it for anything that seems out of the ordinary, such as:

  • Fraudulent accounts
  • Loans that you did not take out
  • Incorrect personal information
  • You did not request hard credit inquiries.
  • Collections accounts

Keep track of all these items, as you will need to dispute each individually to remove them from your credit report.

File a Report With the Federal Trade Commission

Identity theft is often at the top of the reported fraud types, both to the FTC and local criminal authorities. Even though the FTC lacks criminal jurisdiction, it can act as a resource and “clearinghouse for identity theft reports, part of the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel report database.” Reporting the incident to the FTC is essential in order to have access to the full breadth of resources available for recovering from identity theft.

Besides the FTC, reporting to the local police is also one of the best ways to file an investigation if your identity is stolen. Many local law enforcement agencies have established cybercrime units to investigate and prosecute internet fraud and identity theft. Aside from that, if the criminal has utilized your personal information at nearby companies, the police may have access to surveillance and transactional information that the average customer does not.

Contact Firms Where Your Stolen Credentials May Be Utilized

You can’t predict where identity thieves will use your stolen information. This is why it’s best to cut them off at the pass by warning all potential targets. Most cybercriminals who commit identity theft will look for every opportunity to profit from your personal information. For this reason, you should contact the DMV, your health insurance provider, your mortgage lender, and any other institutions where someone could exploit your stolen identity.

Protect Your Identity in the Future

The thing about identity theft is that it is almost always avoidable. Because many people don’t take cybersecurity seriously, hacking is a common problem. Although millions of individuals experience identity theft each year, the process of rectifying this issue is time-consuming and draining. Experts are constantly developing new ways to make it more difficult for hackers to steal your data, but hackers are also continually developing new ways to steal your data. This is why you need to take the protection of your identity into your hands. And as you would want to ensure safety of your items when you are moving or your family’s safety in the event of an emergency, taking the necessary steps to protect your identity is just as crucial. It can ensure that you won’t have to deal with the consequences of identity theft in the future.

To do this, you need a few simple steps to keep your data protected. The main things to remember when it comes to protecting your identity and personal data are to regularly change your password and ensure that your personal information is encrypted and secure at all times. Having to think bout steps to take if your identity is stolen won’t be an issue if you do this.

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