The Crime of Identity Theft
According to the FTC identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America and it can happen to almost anyone unless you’ve taken steps to protect yourself. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, open credit cards and max them out, obtain loans or establish a telephone account, even commit serious crimes – all using your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft is a crime that takes your good name and uses it to open accounts, make purchases and get loans from all over the world at your expense.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend thousands of dollars and many months repairing the damage to their good name and credit record. Identity Theft may cause denial of loan applications, even car or home financing because of negative information reported on the victim’s credit report.
If Your Identity Is Stolen
1. Activate a fraud alert on your credit report
Call the following toll free numbers of the three credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) and request for an initial fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. Once the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, they will forward that information to the other credit bureaus.
By initiating this process, lenders are required to contact you by phone to authorize any new lines of credit.
All three credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) will provide you a credit report free of charge per government mandate.
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
As soon as you receive your credit report, go over all of the information and highlight any accounts affected by the identity theft.
Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debt on your accounts that you don’t recognize. Check personal information reported on the credit report: Social Security number, addresses, names, and employers. If you find any inaccurate information the credit bureaus have to be notified right away.
2. Contact your creditors and Close the accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Call your account holders and notify them that your identity has been compromised. Open investigations into any unauthorized charges, new accounts, etc… Communicating with the creditors is of the utmost importance when dealing with identity theft. Be honest and forthcoming with all available information.
Keep a file of your correspondences and enclosures.
3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
You can file a complaint with the FTC on-line or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20580.
Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
4. File a report with the local police.
Contact your local police department and file a police report as well as an identity theft affidavit. The police may be able to catch and prosecute whoever stole your information. An official record will also reinforce your claims of fraudulent charges if creditors or credit bureaus ask for further information. Keep copy of the police report. You may need it to validate your claims to creditors or credit bureaus.
You are not alone
Fixing your credit after an identity theft can seem like a difficult and arduous process. If you feel overwhelmed and need assistance to remedy the effects of your identity theft, Credit Firm can lend a helping hand. Credit Firm has helped thousands of clients fix their credit and get their life back after identity theft. Sign up today and take the first step toward rebuilding your credit.
If you think you may have been a victim of Identity Theft and need help in the restoration of your credit report, CreditFirm.net can help you get your life back.
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