Panic could be the first reaction in many people when they realize their identity has been stolen without their knowledge. But that will not help them in recovering from the incident.
One has to remain cool and recollect what steps are required to be taken so that any financial loss that the person who stole your identity could cause is kept to the bare minimum.
Getting a new one in its place is obviously the next important action you will have to initiate. But you must be able to execute a step-by-step process as soon as it hits you that your identity has been stolen.
1. Report It
Before you do anything else, it is important to inform the two main authorities.
One is to file a report with the nearest police station. They would want to know and be sure that the identity you are reporting stolen is yours, for which you will have to carry some documentation such as a driver’s license. They would then begin their investigation to trace the culprit.
The other report has to be submitted to the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission). This can be done online or over a toll-free telephone number.
2. Follow Up with Your Report
You will need the details of your report files with the FTC to be submitted to the police again to connect up and ensure its all legally covered.
3. Cover the Misuse of Your Identity
It is not rocket science that the person who stole your identity would be out to make a fast buck with it and the damage would be on you. You will have to stop any such thing happening by sounding a fraud alert. Some agencies, such as credit reporting firms, are first contacted by any bank or funding institution before advancing money. If you put a 90-day fraud alert for this period, then you can at least be certain that your identity may not be used to commit any financial fraud.
4. Stopping Credit Card Fraud
There may be a chance you took time to realize that you lost your identity and, along with it, your credit cards. One of the first things you will have to do is to quickly change your password or PIN for the credit card account. This will make certain it can’t be used. If the thief has already used it and some charges are being billed to you, dispute it right away. If you are lucky, your bank may accept your request.
5. What If Your Medical Identity Is Stolen?
If you are in the habit of keeping all your important documents in one place and your medical identity has been stolen too, you will have to get in touch with your doctor to inquire if any changes have been made to your medical records. This contact will also be used to leave an alert with the doctor about the loss of your identity.
6. Arrange to Get ID Replacements
While making these reports and alerts, you must take appropriate steps to restore your identities which have been stolen. For each identity, the concerned authority has to be contacted—For example, it will be your local Motor Vehicles Department for stolen driver’s licenses; the State Department authorities for your passport and the Social Security Administration for having your new Social Security number replaced.
7. Other Recommended Steps
If you are not happy with just a 90-day alert to the credit reporting agencies, you should also initiate a permanent freeze on any credit being extended to anyone holding your identity. You can do this with major credit reporting firms by using Experian’s Security Freeze Center, TransUnion Credit Freeze or Equifax’s Security Freeze Site.
Similarly, you must check on the tax status with the Internal Revenue Service and leave an alert there as well.
8. Take Steps for the Future
If you have faced theft of your personal identity once, you must at least ensure that you don’t face it once again, ever. For this, you will have to take a number of steps to protect your identity, both the physical ones as well as the digital ones you have created. Equip yourself with the knowledge required to keep your passwords secure and your devices protected from cyber attacks of any kind.
9. Keep Your Cool Always
Finally, it’s important to remain calm even when you notice you have lost your identity. Only a cool mind can work perfectly in solving the issue and regaining the lost records.
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