Imagine logging into your bank account only to find a zero balance, or opening up your credit card statement to discover a list of unauthorized charges. Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience that kind of shock, and count yourself amongst the millions of Americans affected by identity theft.
If it does happen to you, don’t panic. Follow these steps to restore your financial and emotional well-being.
1. Call Your Bank
The first thing to do if you become a victim of identity theft is call your bank. The sooner you report any suspicious activity, the better. Your bank will revoke the affected card and reissue a new one. Then, activate your new card as soon as you receive it in the mail.
2. Freeze Your Credit
Next, freeze your credit by calling one of the three credit reporting agencies:
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Each agency will help you place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. This step will require calling the agency every time you apply for credit, however the protection this step offers is worth the extra time and effort it takes.
3. Sign Up For Credit Monitoring
After freezing your credit, sign up for a credit monitoring service. Given the rise of identity theft, there are no shortage of companies who will monitor your accounts for you. If you take advantage of this service, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when remedying the problem.
4. Report It to the FTC
It’s important to report any instance of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This government agency is responsible for preventing identity theft and business fraud in the United States. You can file a formal report with the FTC online, by phone, or through the mail. An FTC representative will create an identity theft affidavit to help you dispute fraudulent accounts.
5. Let Your Local Police Department Know
Once you’ve reported your identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission, also let your local police department know you’ve become a victim. The FTC will provide a letter you can give to your local police department to expedite the identity theft report filing process. An investigator will be assigned to your case ; keep their contact information easily accessible.
6. Stay Vigilant
Finally, use the unpleasant and stressful experience of identity theft to retool how you protect your private personal information. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to make financial transactions. Shred old and unwanted paperwork. And always keep sensitive documents and files in a secure location.
No one should ever have to experience identity theft. If it does happen to you, use these steps to get your financial life quickly back on track.
Records Management Center provides businesses throughout Augusta, Evans, Thomson, Martinez, GA, Aiken, SC, as well as the Central Savannah River Area, with professional records and information management solutions. To learn more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.