Help! My identity has been stolen. What should I do?
Tuesday, March 08, 2016
A very important topic today found everywhere in the media, the front page news, and every month there seems to be a new security breach. But what do you do if it actually happens to you? Here's some advice:
- Immediately after the discovery of identity theft, create an Identity Theft Affidavit through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- With your completed Affidavit, file a police report.
- Together, your Affidavit and police report form your Identity Theft Report. You will need copies of this report to send to credit agencies and the IRS.
- Pull your credit report! (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). These should be free because you have been the victim of fraud.
- Have the credit reporting agencies place a fraud alert on your file. You will only need to contact one bureau, which will notify the others.
- Write letters disputing each charge and send certified mail with a copy of your credit report highlighting the error. Do this for each error reporting from each agency.
- Request to have information that was the result of the identity theft blocked from your credit report.
- As problems are resolved, obtain a new credit report. Identity theft can have long-running ramifications, so keep up with your credit report regularly.
- Get in touch with the fraud departments at the companies that erroneously authorized credit to the thief in your name.
- Send these companies the same letters and credit report copies.
- Ask the companies to block fraudulent information, and the company will have to stop reporting the fraudulent information and will not be able to sell the debt for collection.
- Request copies of the documents that were fraudulently used to get credit or make changes in your name. This will enable you to have a copy of the fraudulent signature. The company is required to send it to you within 30 days of your request.
- As indicated above, tax identity theft is also a problem. In this case, the thief has used a taxpayer’s identity and real or falsified W-2s to file fraudulent returns claiming a refund. You may not know this has happened until you file and find out your refund has already been taken.
- If you think someone has stolen your refund or used your social security number, notify the IRS immediately.
- Fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
- When you receive correspondence from the IRS, respond right away.