Identity theft is much more common than any of us would like to think. In 2014, 32 data records were lost or stolen every second! (source)
We have written about how to protect yourself in the past and recommend reading it again if it’s been a while. That said, sometimes no amount of protection can completely prevent identity theft.
Here are the first 3 things you should do if you suspect your identity has been stolen:
Lock down Your Account(s)
No matter how you discover your stolen identity, through a phone call from your bank or a database breach, the very first thing you need to do is lock down your problem account(s). Contact your financial institution and ask to either lock or close the account. You can usually roll the funds into another account or create a new one.
Review Your Reports
If one account has been compromised, there’s a chance other accounts may also be affected. Pull up your statements for the past 4+ months and look for any suspicious charges. Review credit reports to see if there are any accounts or debts you didn’t authorize and contact financial institutions immediately to get them closed. If you don’t have a recent credit report, request copies from all three major agencies. By law you are allowed one free report from each agency every year. Reviewing your credit reports regularly or placing a security freeze on your file is a good practice to stay on top of your credit.
File a Report with Authorities
If you discover your identity has in fact been stolen and you aren’t simply facing credit card fraud, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft is a felony and needs to be reported to the authorities. You can file a report on FTCComplaintAssistant.gov or call 1-877-ID-THEFT. You should also file a report with the local police department to build a paper trail and demonstrate you are addressing the problem to the best of your ability.
Prevention is a good form of protection, but if identity theft does happen to you, taking the steps above right away may help mitigate the damage quickly. If you have any questions about identity theft and your accounts with us, give us a call at 303-639-5100.