5 Things to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen to Regain Control

by Taylor M. Ivey

Identity theft can happen to any of us and prevention measures can’t always protect you. Here are 5 things to do if your identity is stolen to regain control of your identity and your financial future.

Imagine a day where everything is going great. Then you check the mail. You’ve gotten a bill in the mail for a credit card, a loan, or even medical services that you know couldn’t be yours. Yet, the bill has your name on it, your social security number, everything on it seems legit, but it is not yours.

Then realization hits you and panic sets in. It has actually happened to you. Your ID has been stolen.

Whether it’s by receiving letters in the mail or phone calls from debt collectors, hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals are getting the news everyday that they are the subject of an identity theft crisis. According to Bob Sullivan from Credit.com, in 2017, roughly 16.7 million consumers were hit with some kind of identity theft. With technology becoming more and more advanced, this number continues to increase every year.

5 things to do if your identity is stolen

While it is best to start protecting yourself before identity theft can even happen, sometimes it just isn’t that easy, and you will find yourself in extreme trouble. However, no matter what happens, there are always things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft and to take control of the situation should identity theft occur. Let’s explore the 5 things to do if your identity is stolen to regain control of your identity and your financial future.

1. Close fraudulently opened accounts.

As soon as you find out new accounts have been opened with your name and social security number, one of the first things to do immediately is to call those companies and close down those accounts.

When you are speaking with the representative of the company, let them know your identity has been compromised and that you did not authorize the opening of the account. While they may not be able to fully close down the account due to a balance, have the representative report the card as stolen. The representative will also be able to notate the account as fraudulent.

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2. Contact the credit reporting agencies.

Next contact the 3 main credit reporting agencies (ExperianEquifax and TransUnion) and place immediate freezes on your credit, which means no bank or lender will be able to pull your credit for any incoming credit applications. The only way any additional credit accounts can be opened in the future is if you unfreeze your credit with each of the credit reporting agencies.

Please note, when you freeze your credit, you must contact each individual credit reporting agency and file separate reports. While placing freezes on your credit, it is also a good idea to do a complete analysis of your credit reports. When you do this, you will be able to see if any other accounts were opened fraudulently under your name and social security number. The more information you have of any fraudulent accounts, the better you can get the situation under control.

3. File an Identity Theft Affidavit with the FTC.

After you have gotten together information for all fraudulent accounts opened under your name, you need to file an identity theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission.

4. File police reports.

Once the affidavit is completed, it is time for you to file a police report. Police reports should be filed both locally and in the jurisdiction where the fraud took place if you have that information. Filing a police report will ensure that you have access to the legal benefits as a victim of identity theft.

When you file a police report, make sure that you file a copy of the identity theft affidavit with it, and that you have a copy of the entire police report for your file.

5. File disputes with the credit and collection agencies.

Now that you have all of the information for the fraudulent accounts, the affidavit, and the police report, it is time for you to file disputes of the fraudulent accounts with any applicable credit and collection company.

Disputes must be sent by mail within 30 days of receiving collection notices. As with any other letter, document, or form you send in the mail concerning fraudulent accounts, when you send the dispute letters to the credit and collection companies, ensure that they are sent certified mail with required signature upon delivery. With the signature upon receipt, you will be notified when the company has received your letter.

The entire process of dealing with identity theft can be a very stressful situation. However, no matter how stressful the situation can be, it is important to always remain calm and to take everything step-by-step. The more stressed you become during the process, the more difficult it can be to fix the situation.

The best thing to do, before the situation can even arise, is to become aware of your credit, regularly track your credit score, and to keep accurate records of your accounts. By keeping a good eye on your accounts and credit score, you will be more likely to save yourself from identity theft in the future.

Reviewed August 2019

You deserve a comfortable retirement.

Subscribe to After 50 Finances, our weekly newsletter dedicated to people 50 years and older. Each issue features financial topics and other issues important to the 50+ crowd that can help you plan for a comfortable retirement even if you haven't saved enough.

Debt ChecklistSubscribers get The After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist for FREE!

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You deserve a comfortable retirement.

Subscribe to After 50 Finances, our weekly newsletter dedicated to people 50 years and older. Each issue features financial topics and other issues important to the 50+ crowd that can help you plan for a comfortable retirement even if you haven't saved enough.

Debt ChecklistSubscribers get The After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist for FREE!

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