7 Steps to Take If You’re an Identity Theft Victim

woman and man holding up pictures of other people's faces to their face

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have detrimental consequences on your finances and credit score. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize their personal information was stolen until weeks or months later. So, whether you fell prey to a scam or were a victim of a data breach, it’s crucial you act swiftly.

Use the following seven steps to get your finances back under your control and prevent further damage to your credit score.

Step #1: Contact Your Financial Institutions

To prevent thieves from continuing to access your accounts, you’ll want to notify all your financial institutions of the fraud. Make a list of all your accounts and credit cards, including those that might not yet be affected. You’ll want to change your online login credentials and passwords.

Make sure you close/suspend the fraudulent accounts that were opened in your name.

Once you contact your financial institutions, you will receive new ATM, debit, and credit cards to prevent further fraud.

TIP: Utilize Multifactor Authentication to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Step #2: Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports

Next, you’ll want to protect your credit score and prevent fraudulent loans and credit cards from being opened in your name. You can accomplish this by placing a fraud alert on your credit reports with each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

A fraud alert requires lenders to take extra measures to ensure the identity of the individual(s) applying for credit in your name. You can place a fraud alert with each credit bureau via the following links:

NOTE: You’ll want to place an alert with each credit bureau. Not all creditors pull the same credit reports, and this will provide the greatest protection.

Step #3: Report the Crime to the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a special website for identity theft victims. In addition to providing a wealth of resources, you’ll receive a personal recovery plan and access to letter templates to use when communicating with your financial institutions.

Step #4: File a Police Report

Many identity theft victims overlook this crucial step. It’s essential to file a police report for two reasons:

  • Identity theft is a crime, and a record needs to be created for future proceedings.
  • An official police report can help you navigate any issues with financial institutions, credit card companies, lenders, or collectors when disputing fraudulent charges.

Step #5: Freeze Your Credit Reports

If fraudsters opened loans or credit cards in your name, you might want to take an extra step to protect your credit. While a fraud alert requires lenders to take additional measures to ensure your identity, a security freeze prevents new lenders from accessing your credit reports. Without access to your information, they cannot issue new credit cards or loans.

Like a fraud alert, you’ll want to place a freeze on each of your credit reports from the major credit bureaus.

NOTE: If you want to apply for credit, such as a car loan or credit card, you must unfreeze your credit report. When you place the security freeze, you will receive a login from each credit bureau. Simply log into your account and unfreeze your credit report when necessary.

Step #6: Notify Other Parties

Sometimes fraud affects more than strictly your financial accounts. For example, if scammers gain access to your Social Security number, they could file fake tax returns or worse. If you believe your Social Security number is compromised, it’s wise to contact the Social Security Administration.

They will help to determine if your number was stolen and detail steps to issue a new card if necessary.

Step #7: Monitor Your Accounts & Credit Reports

It’s always wise to check your accounts and transactions regularly, especially after being an identity theft victim. While many websites and apps allow you to check your credit score for free, it’s also important to review your entire credit report periodically.

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each major credit bureau annually at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You can either request all three reports at once, or you can space them out throughout the year. For example, request your Equifax report in March, Experian in July, and TransUnion in November.

You can also enroll in a paid credit monitoring service for extra protection. These programs will alert you if they notice anything suspicious or detect fraudulent activity on your accounts.

We’re Here to Help!

Identity theft is a rising crime, with fraudsters becoming more creative every year. It’s important to stay vigilant with your personal information and keep up to date with the latest scams. Knowing the steps to take if you are a victim is just as important.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, we’re ready to help. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call 888-777-9982 to speak with a team member today.

Disclosures

  • This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

  • Equal Housing Lender

You might like ...

Here are a few other resources you might enjoy.

woman at the beach with a floatie

Unlock Your Dream Summer with a HELOC

Summertime is synonymous with fun, relaxation, and making memories. Whether you’re taking an adventure-filled family vacation, hosting epic backyard barbecues, or embarking on spontaneous road...

Read more