How to Recover from Identity Theft

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Although we strongly believe that the best defense against identity theft is a (virtually) impenetrable offense – if you let your guard down even for a second, your personal information can be stolen.

Some behaviors that will increase your risk for identity theft include: shopping online, using an public wireless internet connection, putting pieces of mail that contain personal info into the trash bin, and giving out your personal information to anyone  you don’t explicitly trust – whether over the phone or in person.

I suspect someone has accessed my personal info. What now?

If you have reason to believe that your private, financial or otherwise personal information has been stolen, there are some things that you can to do lessen the damage to your finances and credit report.

Remember, once someone accesses your personal information, they can then proceed to act as you, making a huge mess for you to clean up. The important thing here is to have a quick reaction time.

In order to stay organized during this stressful time, start writing down  everything you do that relates to the identity theft. Write down phone calls you make, including who you speak to and what was said. Make note of any discussions with the police, your bank(s), and your NJ attorney.

Keep track of all of the time you spend and any money you have to spend in order to clean up the mess, because expenses related to identity theft are tax deductible.

Place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit report with the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This alerts them to the fact that any financial activity that occurs while the fraud alert is in place is not done with your permission.

Just as important as contacting the credit bureaus is talking to your bank and any credit card companies. You must move as quickly as possible to alert your banking institution to cancel your debit or banking card. As soon as your bank knows there has been a theft of your information, you won’t be held responsible for anything the identity theft does thereafter.

If you realize your financial information has been stolen because of strange activity on your credit card or debit card, you once again must act fast to protect yourself. You’ll need to report the fraudulent activity within two business days of the date that it took place. This is why it is always a good idea to stay on top of the activity in your bank account and credit card accounts. If you check your activity online every day, you’ll be sure to spot an identity thief before much (or any) damage is done.

Next, you’ll want to make this event official by creating a report of the identity theft with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By reporting the identity theft, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting any negative marks removed from your credit report that were caused by the fraud artist. This action will also stop a company from coming after you for debts that were incurred by your identity thief – not you.

You may also wish to file a police report and contact a local attorney. Your attorney can help make sure that you’ve covered all of the right bases regarding the information breach, and will help you take legal action against any creditors that attempt to collect money from you that was part of the identity theft.

Image credit: Sebastien Launay

 

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2 Responses to How to Recover from Identity Theft

  1. Pingback: Why Do I Need an EMV-Enabled Credit Card? | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: My SS Number was Compromised; What are my Options? | Veitengruber Law

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