For more than a decade identify theft has headed the top of the list of consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and there is no indication it is going to drop from the top spot anytime soon. Toss in the security issues such as those at Target and Niemen Marcus, which revealed the personal information of more than 70 million citizens and it’s extremely obvious why identify theft is a very, very scary situation.
What is Identity Theft?
Identify theft consists of a number of scenarios such as:
- Fraudulent credit card use
- Inappropriate financial transactions on a bank account
- Applications with incorrect information for new lines of credit
- Illegal activity through the Internet to steal people’s personal information
- Falsifying documents for unemployment benefits, taxes and social security
So What Steps Must Be Taken?
If you even have a slightest indication you have been a victim of identity theft, spring into action and protect yourself as soon as possible by performing these five acts:
- Place a Fraud Alert or Security Freeze with Credit Agencies- This insures anyone reviewing your credit for the next three months will take extra caution before opening any new accounts in your name. You only need to place your request with one credit company and they will inform the other two. A security freeze means no credit agencies can even view your report so all new requests for credit will be denied.
- Call Your Credit Card Companies – Let each agency know what happened so they can take the appropriate steps to protect you and themselves.
- Get in Touch With the FTC – File out all the necessary information to complete an Identity Theft Report. They will tell you what do next.
- Call the Cops – Identity theft is a crime. Also it’s important to have established in the public record in case the ramifications from the activity place you in a financial bind.
- Contact the Appropriate Government Agencies – You don’t want someone to file taxes in your name or use your Social Security number to commit more fraudulent acts.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do?
This list is by no means comprehensive. They are merely the very first things to do to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, ridding yourself of the detrimental elements of identity theft can be daunting, time consuming and drag on for an immeasurably long amount of time. For further details on how to protect or restore yourself from identity theft, contact the FTC. It is this organization’s job to aid you in the process of contending with the nasty repercussions from identity theft.