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Identity Theft: What To Do If You’re A Victim

By Chris Bibey

identity theft stepsIdentity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Due to the age of the Internet when we’re buying things online and sharing our personal information, our identity has become more vulnerable than ever. Virtually anyone with an Internet connection and some hacking savvy can find your personal information and steal it. If you have been a victim of identity theft or think that this is the case, there are several things you can do to get your personal and financial lives back on track. The last thing you want to do is let this slide, and hope that everything works out in the long run. Even though you may not feel up to it, there are several steps you have to take in order to restore your good name:

1. Immediately contact one of the three credit reporting agencies. The one that you speak with will inform the others. Within a day, at the most, a fraud alert will be placed on your report. With this, creditors are supposed to call you before any new accounts are open. This goes a long way in ensuring that fraudulent accounts are not continually opened in your name.

2. Review your credit report. It is essential that you do this as soon as possible. Your goal is to find any fraudulent activity. Most commonly you will find an account that has been opened that you know nothing about. It is your responsibility to get in touch with the proper credit reporting agency, and follow the necessary steps to having this removed. Make sure you request copies of all documents that show fraudulent transactions.

3. Call the police. This is the one step in the process that the majority of people pass over. They think about calling the police, but figure that it is a waste of time. By doing this, you will receive a police report which can come in handy when communicating with credit reporting agencies as well as creditors. This will serve as your proof that a crime has been committed against you. Plus, filing a false police report is a crime in the United States, so by doing so, you’re giving a clear message to the credit reporting agencies that the accounts were NOT opened by you and the charges on them are fraudulent.

Keep in mind: By informing your local police, you are helping them hunt down the perpetrator. In turn, you are also helping others to avoid becoming a victim.

4. Do you know how your identity was stolen? This is a question that you should attempt to answer, no matter what it takes. Did you lose your wallet which lead to the crime? Did somebody steal an online password and take advantage of it? Do you have any former friends or family members with a history of identity theft?

If you know how your identity was stolen you can take the proper steps in ensuring that it never happens again. Just to be safe, you will want to change all your online passwords. Along with this, you may need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to request a new driver’s license number. Unfortunately, the majority of identity thieves are people that you know. It could be a former colleague, past acquaintance, a neighbor, or even your parents or siblings. Just listen to the Dave Ramsey show for about an hour, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear a caller whose identity was stolen by their parents, cousin, or siblings. It’s horrible to think about, but if you are a victim, you should look to the ones you know first as possible suspects, and don’t show any mercy towards them. Identity theft is a federal crime, and it should be dealt with accordingly.

No one can prevent identity theft, but you can relieve some of the inconvenience that it causes by purchasing identity theft insurance very cheaply. Zander Insurance has an identity theft insurance product that does all of the leg work for you if you are a victim so you don’t waste time on the phone and lose hours when you could be working.

Identity Theft Insurance

Every year, roughly 10 million people become a victim of identity theft. With this in mind, more and more consumers are purchasing identity theft insurance. While identity theft insurance cannot protect you from becoming a victim, it can do one very important thing: cover expenses that you incur when dealing with the backlash of identity theft. This can include legal bills, phone charges, and expenses associated with making copies and mailing them to the appropriate parties.

Note: Identity theft insurance will not reimburse you for any money that has been stolen.

If you are interested in buying identity theft insurance, get in touch with your home insurance company to see if they offer this type of protection. Generally speaking, identity theft insurance plans range from $50 to $200 per year. The cost is based on the deductible and coverage selected.

If you become a victim of identity theft in the future, follow the steps above. Do you have any identity theft stories?

(photo credit: www.BackgroundNow.com)

Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey is a freelance writer who over the years has honed his personal finance experience by writing more than 100 feature articles on the subject. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports - West Virginia football in particular!

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  • http://www.pplnational.com Mike

    Identity theft has become a major, major problem! And living without protection is like living in a crime infested neighborhood and not having protection on your home. You would probably at least have a really good guard dog and a fence right? Well, not protecting your identity today is the equivalent of living in that neighborhood and refusing to even lock your door. It’s so sad that it’s come to this, but there are always tradeoffs in life. Because we want better medical coverage and a nicer car we pay more to protect and insure them.
    Likewise, with something as amazing as the World Wide Web there come tradeoffs also. One tradeoff for us having access to almost everything is that others have access to almost everything about us, our information. And that includes our personal information like social security numbers, banking information and even your medical and criminal history.

  • moxie

    Went to a doctor’s office this past week and discovered that a print-out of my full name, birthdate and social security number was handed off between staff members in the office. When I complained they said this is their protocol. When the document is finally handed back in by the doctor, they claim it is shredded. I was livid. I counted that my identifying information had passed through no less than six employees of the office in a matter of thirty minutes.

    My insurance company no longer puts social security numbers on cards. What’s with these doctors’ offices that they think passing a document around the office with one’s identifying information is Ok?

  • Pingback: Don't Let the Fear of Identity Theft Prevent You from Shopping Online

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