Writers at Equifax provide some steps you can take if you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft. It all starts with taking some action.
1) Contact the fraud department at the financial institution or company where you believe the identity theft happened.
2) Place a one-year fraud alert on your credit reports, by contacting one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion). Once you file a fraud alert with one bureau – they will notify the other two.
3) Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. You can contact any of the credit bureaus to create an account & place this security freeze.
4) Submit an ID Theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov and receive their recovery plan.
5) File a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
6) Monitor all your accounts by getting a copy of your credit report from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
The following includes some of the ways thieves may steal your identity:
- Steal wallets or purses in order to obtain identification, credit and debit cards
- Dig through mail and trash in search of account and credit card statements, preapproved credit card offers, tax information and other documents that may contain personal details
- Fill out change-of-address forms to forward mail, which generally contains personal and financial information
- Buy personal information from an inside, third party source, such as a company employee who has access to applications for credit
- Obtain personnel records from a victim’s place of employment
- “Skim” information from an ATM — this is done through an electronic device, which is attached to the ATM, that can steal the information stored on a credit or debit card’s magnetic strip
- Swipe personal information that has been shared on unsecured websites or public Wi-Fi
- Steal electronic records through a data breach
- “Phish” for electronic information with phony emails, text messages and websites that are entirely designed to steal sensitive information
- Pose as a home buyer during open houses which allows access to sensitive information casually stored in unlocked drawers