Recovering from Identity theft!
Sometime ago we published the article “If You’ve Been Hacked” to provide information on how to recover if your computer has been compromised. While that focused more on the initial stages of a hack, there are times when things can quickly spiral into full-blown identity theft: new credit opened in your name, bills rung up, accounts compromised. Recovering from such an event requires more thorough and exhaustive measures than simply reporting a fraudulent credit card charge or changing a password. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to begin walking your life back into your control.
Below we’d like to summarize 9 things to do to get your life back. Nine things you can do to set the records straight.
(NOTE: These steps come from the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Identity and a link to the more detailed article will be provided at the conclusion of the summary).
1. Replace missing documents: Were any of your government issued ID papers physically stolen? Driver’s license, passport, social security card? What about financial materials like credit cards or your checkbook? If so, step one is to contact the appropriate offices and get replacements. In some cases, you can also place an alert on your file to prevent anyone else from requesting documents in your name.
2. Create an Identity Theft Report: There are two steps here. First, create a Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC will gather details on your situation and work with law enforcement to track down the thieves. Once you have this affidavit, you should also take it down to your local police station and file a report with them as well.
3, 4, 5. These steps are all related variations on protecting your credit. You have several options, from a credit fraud alert to a credit freeze, all of which are designed to prevent the identity thief from opening new lines of credit in your name. You should also request a credit report from all three credit agencies so you can look it over and identify fraudulent activity that might have already taken place.
6. Check into your medical records: If a thief receives medical treatment under your name, it could affect your personal medical records. Contact your doctor and health insurance provider to get a copy of your medical file so you can check for errors.
7. Check tax records: If tax fraud has occurred (the thief has used your ID to file fraudulent tax returns or to apply for a job) contact the IRS fraud department to work with a tax fraud specialist.
8. Protect your financial accounts: If there has been any fraudulent activity on your credit, debit, or investment accounts, contact those institutions and dispute the charges. You should also change all your passwords and pins.
9. Protect your identity for the future: Regularly review your bank statements, account statements, credit reports, etc. to monitor them for unusual activity. Also, protect your personal information by investing in a paper shredder and computer security such as a password manager and antivirus software.
For the full article with more details and specific contact numbers for many of the institutions mentioned, click here.