There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft. You don’t want to make it easy for the bad guy. But at the end of the day, you are still at risk. Even when you’ve done everything properly. To recover as quickly as possible, here are six things to do if you’ve been hit with identity theft.
1. Make a report. File an identity theft report and contact your financial institutions to fill out their paperwork as well. The sooner you let them know, the easier it will be to start fixing things. And you’ll be able to stop the thieves from getting any more. The paperwork is a hassle and it’s only the first stop. But it’s important to spring to action the moment you notice something amiss.
2. Close accounts that have been accessed. You can request copies of the documents the bad guys used to steal your identity. That can help you understand what information they have and what you need to cancel or change. It can also give you a good idea of what might continue to go wrong. You have to cancel all your cards, maybe even close and open new bank accounts. You have to do a lot to stop the bad guys in their steps. Depending on how much of your information was at risk, you have a lot of changes to make.
3. Ensure your finances stay in order as you move forward. In your haste to stop them from stealing more, don’t let your actual payments fall through the cracks. It’s easy to hurt your credit because you don’t update things like autopays. Don’t forget to request new cards, new checks for any account you have to close and reopen. And make sure you know when you expect the new cards and checks so you can continue to pay your bills in a timely manner.
4. Check your credit reports. Until you stop seeing suspicious things on your credit report, check it regularly. You need to make sure you dispute anything that shouldn’t be there in a timely manner. When you file certain identity-theft reports, you are entitled to more than one credit report a year. It can help you keep a closer eye on it all.
5. Track everything you do. The more people you have to talk to, the more likely it is things will fall through the cracks. Don’t assume that all your conversations are adequately logged. Or that they will be followed up on. Keep logs (organized ones) that will help you keep track of each complaint, dispute, question, concern, etc. Hopefully you don’t need to bring them out in your own defense, but they will give you great peace of mind that you’re truly on top of things.
Identity theft can be devastating. Even having to cancel one credit card can have a big impact on your life. Should you be in the position of recovering your identity, know that it will be work, maybe even a lot of work, but it’s work that you must do. After you’ve finished recovering, you can look into options to lower your chances of ever going through it again.