Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Assistance for Victims and other Identity Theft topics.
It's common for victims of identity theft to experience disbelief, especially when warning signs are subtle rather than blatant. Yet, it's imperative that you seek identity theft assistance quickly to reduce compounding damages to your good credit standing. Victims of identity theft should take these four steps immediately:
First, initiate a fraud alert on your credit reports. Contact any one of the these three consumer reporting companies to place an alert on your report:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Calling one company obligates its representative to contact the other two to place alerts on your credit report information kept in their records. An initial alert stays on your credit report a minimum of 90 days.
Second, close any known or suspected accounts that have been compromised or opened fraudulently. Call to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company, get the contact information of the person you speak with, and follow up in writing. Include supporting documentation and send your correspondence by certified mail with a return receipt request to ensure verification that the information was received.
Third, file a police report in the community where the identity theft occurred. If you live in Minnesota and you determine your credit card was stolen while vacationing in Florida, file your police report with the Florida authorities. Get the report number and request a copy of the report. It could help you deal with creditors who require proof that the crime occurred.
Fourth, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Your complaint provides valuable information to help law enforcement officials track down thieves and prevent identity theft. The FTC also refers victims' complaints to other agencies for possible further action, and to aid in identity theft investigation. You can file a complaint online, call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free, at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338), or write: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|