The effects of identity theft can be life-altering for those who go through it. Housing and job opportunities can be lost, and credit scores can be drastically affected. Once you see the signs of identity theft, it is crucial to start the process of getting your identity back immediately.
The warning signs of identity theft can be challenging to spot at first. Maybe you spot a transaction you can’t quite place initially, but it can soon spiral into receiving a past-due notice on a loan you didn’t apply for. Once these are spotted, the next steps you take can ensure you get your identity back as soon as possible so your life is not majorly affected.
Contact The Credit Bureaus
The first step is to reach out to one of the leading credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can contact the bureau that originally came to you with the questionable transactions. From there, you can place a fraud alert on your account so future lenders understand that you have been a victim of identity fraud. This stays on your report for 90 days and forces lenders to reach out to you personally regarding requests for new credit cards or loans so they can verify your identity.
Close Any Compromised Card
Secondly, you will want to close any credit card that has been used fraudulently. In this process, it might be wise to close every card to be sure the scammer can not attach itself to any other card in your name in the future. The credit issuer will then provide you with a new account number and card.
File a Report With The Federal Trade Commission
The next step to correcting your inaccurate credit is to file an identity theft report. You can do this by going to the Federal Trade Commission website with all your accumulated evidence and completing a report. You will get a copy of the report along with a recovery plan.
Once you have filed through the FTC, take this report and any other evidence and bring it to local law enforcement. Identity theft is a crime, and this can ensure the scammer is held accountable. Once again, get a copy of the police report for your records as well.
Dispute The Charges
Once you have the paperwork from the FTC, the police report, and the evidence you found, you can go back to the three credit bureaus and dispute your charges. To do this, you must write a letter to each bureau outlining the list of the fraudulent charges on your account. These bureaus then have 30 days to respond to your letter after they have received it.
Freeze Your Credit
The final step when correcting your inaccurate credit is to freeze your credit while all of this is happening. While a fraud alert can be a strong deterrent to scammers, a freeze can ensure that no transactions or new accounts are open under any circumstances. In the case where you want to open up new accounts during or after the process, you will have to unfreeze your credit for the time being.
Having your identity stolen can be devastating and cause stress in your life, but thankfully there are steps you can take to get it back. If the creditors cannot help or get your identity back, take the next steps and reach out to Stecklein & Rapp.