Identity theft is one of the leading forms of cybercrime today. If you ever suspect your identity has been stolen, here are the steps you need to take.
1: Shut down the account
Call your bank or financial institution, dispute any illicit charges being made on your account, and cancel or lock the account immediately. This will prevent the perpetrator from making any more charges.
2: Place a Fraud Alert
A fraud alert is free, 90-day service that requires a business to verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name. This will make it harder for the thief to open new accounts.
3: Contact the Federal Trade Commission
You’ll need to file a stolen identity report with the FTC. Keep in mind, however, that this is only necessary if you believe your identity has been stolen. Credit card fraud on a single account does not require action from the FTC.
4: Contact Your Local Police Department
It’s important to know that your local police may not actually be able to do anything about identity theft. This step is more about creating a paper trail. If, however, there was a break in involved with your identity theft, the police can pursue an investigation.
5: Take the Steps to Clean Up the Mess and Prevent Further Theft
You’ll need to close any new accounts that were opened in your name, remove fraudulent charges, correct your credit report, and replace any physical property—such as stolen IDs or credit cards.
You can also take steps to lessen your chances of fraud or theft in the future. These include:
- Creating strong passwords for your online accounts.
- Shredding documents with personal information.
- Keeping personal information off social media sites.
- Keeping your social security card locked away in a safe place.
Above all, don’t panic. Identity theft can be a stressful problem, but if you remain calm and take the proper steps, everything will be resolved.