Identity theft is a rising concern, especially for anyone who does business over the internet. Hackers and cyber-thieves employ an array of methods to capture and use personal information to assume identity, access financial records, and open accounts and profiles. Combating identity theft has become a more elusive endeavor, as identity thieves find different ways to steal information. After the trauma of learning your personal information has been compromised, getting your identity back and securing it become your biggest concerns. To avoid having your identity stolen, choose an identity theft protection service to keep your financial profile safe from online predators and identity thieves.
Here are five ways that you can deal effectively with retrieving your identity and recovering fully from having your personal information stolen.
Signal the Alert That Your Identity Has Been Stolen
A fraud alert is an important first step in recovering from identity theft. Sounding the alarm will go a long way toward mitigating the damage and starting the recovery process. To signal a fraud alert, contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to request an initial fraud alert. The initial fraud alert will last 90 days and give you time to take more permanent steps to avoid further theft.
Get an Accurate Picture of the Damage
Recovering from identity theft requires that you gather a complete and accurate idea of the impact of your stolen information. One of the most effective ways to see clearly how the theft has impacted your financial life is by checking your credit report through each of the three credit reporting bureaus. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian can provide you with a detailed look at your credit history – including accounts that have been opened using your identity. You are afforded a free report one time, annually. This one-per-year restriction is removed for those who are victims of identity theft.
Create an Identity Theft Report
The identity theft report is your official declaration that you have been the victim of identity theft. To create an identity theft report, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and check out its claim assistant page online. Fill out an identity theft affidavit, which details the nature and scope of your identity theft. Also fill out a police report. These two documents together make an identity theft report.
Create a System to Compile Related Documentation
Along with the process of dealing with a theft of your identity, you will need to keep record of all related matters and documents in order to determine what you have authorized and what behavior is the result of identity theft. This filing system is where you should keep copies of any proof of unauthorized charges or opened accounts, any correspondence you’ve sent or received related to the matter, and recorded notes to describe any calls you have made or receive in trying to gain a better understanding of the identity theft.
File an Extended Fraud Alert
After the initial fraud alert has expired, if the matter has not been completely resolved you should file for an extended fraud alert. The extended fraud alert lasts seven years and will serve as a barrier to would-be identity thieves who seek to further compromise your financial profile.
After you have done some damage control, you are now free to proceed with recovering your identity. The most important steps in fixing the unauthorized inclusions in your credit report are:
- Contact each business represented on your credit report corresponding to charges or accounts not authorized by you.
- Provide the credit bureaus with copies of your identity theft report.
- Dispute unauthorized charges. The protocol for filing a dispute varies by organization.
Protecting Yourself From Identity Thieves
As detailed above, recovering from an identity theft is an arduous undertaking. The best way to avoid having to endure the hassle of regaining control of your financial profile is to keep thieves away in the first place. Identity theft protection services offer a variety of tools for spotting unauthorized behavior and stopping it before your identity is at risk of swiping. Identity theft protection services offer you the benefit of fraud alerts and resolution services that will be critical in protecting your identity and recovering should your personal information be compromised. Review the array of services available through the leading identity theft protection services and decide which one is best for you.