Millions of people browse the Internet everyday, putting in personal information into multiple websites without thinking twice about the potential risks. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), someone becomes a victim of identity fraud every 14 seconds. With this staggering number combined with frequent data breaches every year, it’s no wonder people are becoming more concerned about their identity being stolen. People might scramble to change their password or call their banks, but they might be at a loss when it comes to what other steps should be taken. We’ll equip you with the knowledge you need below, so you know what to do after you’ve had your identity stolen.
Check Financial Accounts & Change Passwords
If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, check all of your bank accounts, financial accounts, and any other accounts for suspicious activity. Document any fraudulent charges or data breaches and write down this information in case you may need it later. A credit bureau, your bank or even the police may need receipts or digital proof of this information to help you out. After you document all of the areas where your information has been compromised, change your passwords, especially if your information is part of a data breach to prevent further damage.
Cyber Insurance Companies
Cyber insurance companies offer an often-overlooked preventive measure for identity theft, especially since it’s relatively new. Cyber insurance companies offer several different types of coverage including data breaches, financial loss, legal fees, fraudulent credit card charges, document recovery charges, and more. In the case of identity theft, cyber insurance companies are definitely a worthwhile investment that could save you money, a massive headache, and time.
Report to Federal Trade Commission
Reporting your information to the FTC is one of the most vital steps you can take after your identity is stolen. The FTC allows you to submit your information to IdentityTheft.gov, where they guide you through the process of creating an identity theft report, filling out forms, and penning letters. Some of the forms can help you file a local police report and bigger agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can use the info to track down the perpetrator. The FTC also provides an identity recovery plan, tracks your progress, and helps you throughout the process. You can use this to help dispute charges and prove to businesses that your identity was truly stolen.
Contact one of the three major consumer credit bureaus, consisting of Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, and put in a fraud alert, so it shows up on your credit reports. The credit bureau you report to is required by law to contact the other two and share your information. This fraud alert will stay on your credit reports for one year and will make it much more difficult for the person who stole your identity to open up new accounts under your name. This entire process is free and well worth your time.
Credit Monitoring Service
Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service, so you’re able to monitor your accounts for any other suspicious activity. Experian and Capital One both offer free credit monitoring services. A lot of these companies monitor the dark web, social media sites, sex offender registries, and more for any compromised data or stolen personal information. If you wish to go even deep into monitoring fraudulent activity, you can always pay a company that offers in-depth services to prevent identity theft from happening again and for peace of mind.
Dispute Fraudulent Charges
Contact every company where you found suspicious activity and notify them of identity theft. This is usually done by contacting the company’s fraud department via phone and asking to have fraudulent charges taken off your account or having your entire account closed. Make sure you have the specific dates and amounts on hand to streamline the process. Request everything in writing for your own records, so you’re not held liable by credit bureaus as well.
According to the FTC, identity theft costs people who live in the US more than $56 billion in 2020. Identity theft can leave a large dent in your pocketbooks and have you feeling overwhelmed in the midst of the situation. It’s important to do a thorough check of all of your accounts, document any fraudulent activity, and change your passwords to prevent any further damage from occurring. Consider investing some money into one of many cyber insurance companies and report the identity theft to the FTC immediately. Contact one of the major credit bureaus and request a fraud alert to be placed on your accounts, so the perpetrator can’t open new accounts. Finally, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service and dispute any fraudulent charges so you can be reimbursed. If you follow the steps outlined above, you’ll be well on the road to recovery after your identity has been stolen.