If you discover you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you’ll face quite a bit of uncertainty. It’s difficult to tell when someone might try to use your identity fraudulently (if they haven’t already), so you need to protect yourself. Fortunately, recovering from identity theft and defending your identity may be easier than you think, even if it might take some time. Here are some simple steps you can follow.
- Notify Your Creditors
The first, and arguably most important thing you should do if you discover you’ve been the victim of identity fraud, is to notify your bank and creditors. The last thing they want to happen is someone opening new accounts or taking out loans fraudulently. You’ll need to act quickly when you discover fraud: generally it’s best to report any fraudulent activity within 48 hours of discovering it to keep your liability as minimal as possible.
- Manage Your Credit Report
Running your credit report can help you take stock of how much damage has been done to your financial history, and help you develop a strategy for what you need to recover from. You may also want to consider putting a fraud alert on your credit report (which instructs creditors to obtain additional identification from anyone looking to open a loan in your name), or even getting a credit freeze.
- Contact Authorities
There are two different authorities you should contact: the police, and the Federal Trade Commission. You can reach the FTC by phone or online and fill out the proper paperwork, including theft complaint affidavit. Combine this affidavit with a police report to create an identity theft report and effectively dispute fraudulent charges and accounts in your name. You should send a copy of this theft report to your creditors and credit reporting agencies as well.
- Protect Your Social Security Number
Contact the Office of the Inspector General and notify them that you believe your social security number was used fraudulently. You can obtain a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement to check for accuracy and make sure any withdrawals are authentic.
- Get a New Driver’s License
While you can’t get a new social security number, you can get a new driver’s license number, and sometimes this is necessary if your existing one was used to commit identity fraud. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out the process of getting a new number.