You’ve opened your credit card statement and found a slew of unauthorized charges, or maybe your debit card was declined because someone wiped out your entire account. Or perhaps your social security number ended up on the dark web. No matter how you’ve been alerted to identity theft, you must act quickly. The effects of identity theft can be devastating, and you need to inform all affected parties as soon as possible to prevent damage to your credit.
1. Contact the Local Police Department and the FTC
State and federal authorities must be alerted to identity theft cases. With multiple accounts and debts, identity theft quickly turns into an interstate affair. Having files on record with both the FTC and the local police department can help you as you discover just how much damage has been done by the thief.
2. Reach Out to All Three Credit Reporting Agencies
If the thief has opened accounts in your name or used your existing accounts, this information should be reflected on some – or even all – of your credit reports. When you contact TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, request that they add a fraud alert to your file. While law enforcement agencies sort out the specifics of your case, you can at least prevent the fraudster from opening more accounts in your name and doing even more damage. Also obtain copies of all three credit reports, and look more extensively into each for additional signs of fraud.
3. Check Your Statements and Contact Financial Institutions
If you initially discovered ID theft through fraudulent transactions, it’s important to find out whether other accounts have been compromised. Go through at least three months of statements for each of your debit and credit cards to look for unapproved charges. In some cases, identity thieves test new accounts with small purchases before maxing out stolen cards. Contact each financial institution with whom you have an account and notify them. They can lock down any further spending on your account until you get new cards and account numbers.
4. Touch Base with the Social Security Administration
Not every identity theft case involves theft of a social security number. If your SSN has been compromised, thieves can open new accounts, in addition to running up your existing accounts. If there’s evidence that someone has obtained your SSN, alert the Social Security Administration immediately.
5. Keep a Record of Everything
Keep a log of every conversation you have regarding your fraud case. Typically, you must notify financial institutions of unauthorized charges within a set timeframe to free yourself of liability. If you do not contact them within this timeframe – or they don’t have a record of your conversation – you may have to pay back the fraudster’s charges. Whenever possible, get a confirmation number for account changes or closures. After communicating with a fraud representative at each institution, make a note of their first name and ID number. If a company claims that you did not notify them, you’ll at least then have the evidence you need to back up your claims.
Resolving identity theft requires lots of phone calls, documentation, and time. You don’t need the extra stress while you’re trying to rebuild your financial stability, so let us help. Contact the identity theft lawyers at Fetterman & Associates at (561) 693-3872 for a free case evaluation.
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