What to do if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
So You’ve Become a Victim of Online Identity Theft
So often people do not realize they are a victim of identity theft until it is too late. Whole or in part, it has been described as one of the most scary, frustrating and life changing experience some have been through. This criminal activity can range from petite crime like purchasing a few small items in your name on a random debit card to completely taking over their entire life. Being informed just might save your bacon(or your cabbage).
Here are some examples of how a person might find out they are a victim of fraudulent activity regarding their identity
1) Unknown withdrawals on your bank account. These amounts may be small in hopes that the account holder will not notice the fraudulent activity. A sort of hit and get scheme. Hit your account online once and move on to the next victim. Or, they can take a big chance and entirely clean your accounts out.
2) Credit cards or loans opened in your good name and good credit by someone other than you. These instances can work pretty much the same way as the activity mentioned above. However, with credit cards thieves might sell your information to another scheme. Or, max out a card on a spending spree and ditch the number.
3) Filing false tax returns and receiving a refund in your name. This one seems to becoming a popular one in the past few years.
4) When a person commits a major crime certain rights are taken away due to the fact they have become felonious offenders. These rights might be getting a rental property, obtaining a firearm or firearm permit, access to certain jobs that might put the criminal in direct contact with or be responsible for money. Once in these positions the criminal might, over a period of time skim from the till until caught or commit a one time embezzlement of major funds.
What Can You Do Once You Realize You Are a Victim
1) Call the fraud department of the accounts involved. They understand that this might be a trying time during identity theft. Do the best to give them as much pertinent information the fraud department needs.
2) Put a hold or freeze on the accounts that are directly involved. This can be a hassle because not only can the crooks get to your money, you won’t be able to for a period of time. This closely coincides with number one because usually the companies involved will help walk you through this process.
3) Change passwords and pin numbers to not only the affected accounts but to all your accounts. Make them different than previous passwords and pins used in the past. Make them hard to decipher for others. This should be practiced often, but we will cover more on that further down in Pro-Active Preventative Measures.
4) You could call your local police department and file a report. Your local department might not have an identity theft task force. It is however, another form of proof when the incident occurred. You also could report it to the FTC.
Pro-Active Preventative Measures
1) Check your credit score. There are some truly free sites where you can check your credit but wont count against your credit. If you see something off or see activity you did not take part in, you can start right away to having it removed from your credit.
2) Change pins, passwords and usernames on a regular basis. Make them long and unusual with a series of mixed numerals and letters. Be careful not use passwords and pin numbers you’ve used in the past.
3) Before taking part in any online or over the phone purchases, donations or investments do your research. Check out reviews on a products and services. Especially if the offers seem too good to be true.
4) Seek credit card and financial companies that have fraud protection procedures in place and know what they mean for you.
In Part 1, we have already described the different types of identity theft and which organizations help to recover if you have already become a victim.