Personal Privacy: What To Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft

There are many things you can do if you are a victim of identity theft. Most of the time victims of this type of theft are burdened with the task of solving the problem themselves. Yet, there are agencies and organizations that can help you. So it is important that you act quickly to minimize the damage on your financial reputation.

When resolving the identity theft, it is best to keep a log of all the steps you got done. This includes all conversations, plus dates, times, names, and phone numbers. It is best to confirm conversations in writing. Be sure to send all letters in regards to the identity theft via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Also, keep copies of all letters and documents.

Complete the following four tasks right away when you are an identity theft victim:

  • Contact the police department where the identity theft took place. Obtain a copy of this police report. Do this in case you need to send a copy to your bank, credit card companies, and to any others who need proof of the crime.
  • Call or write the three top credit bureau fraud departments. Inform them about your identity theft. You should request that a fraud alert be placed on your file. Also, request that no new credit be granted without your okay.
  • Close all accounts with banks and credit card companies that were gotten into or opened by the thief. Remember your quick actions are needed if you are a victim of identity theft. You must notify your banks and other financial places within two days of learning of your identity theft. You may be responsible for the first $50 of your loss. Most of the time, the victim does not have to pay a dime.
  • Open a new checking and saving account with new account numbers and passwords. Use passwords that are not easy to figure out by thieves. Do not use these as passwords: your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your pet’s name, your children’s name, last four digits of your social security number, or anything easy to figure out.

Contact your local Extension Service office or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Hotline for more information on protecting your identity and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft: 1-202-382-4357 or http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ .

Written by Katherine Reuter, Consumer & Family Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.

Edited by: Katherine Reuter, Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economics, University of Illinois Extension, Countryside Extension Center.

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