Identity Theft: What To Do When You’ve Been Victimized

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Have you ever been surprised by having a credit application denied?  Or been told that you’re paying too much for your car insurance because you have bad credit?

There are 15 million victims of identity each year with an estimated loss of $50 billion.   That’s a lot of cake.    If you’re credit card gets stolen, you’re only liable for up to $50 of the theft, but what if your checking account is cracked or someone is opening accounts in your name?   What is the indirect cost coming form higher interest rates?

Identity theft happens.  It could happen to you.

What should you do if you become a victim of identity theft?

  1. File a police report.   You’ve been victimized, make sure you have some documentation of that.
  2. Contact any credit card company that has possibly been affected.   If you lost your wallet, call them all.    If somebody has opening cards in your name, call all of those.
  3. Call the credit bureaus* and have a fraud alert put on your credit report.   This will force any new creditor to take extra steps to verify your identity before opening a new account.  Ideally, your identity thief won’t be able to make the grade.   If that isn’t enough, look into an identity freeze.   That will stop a lender from even seeing your credit report without your explicit permission.
  4. Close your bank accounts  Depending on how severe the theft, you may need all new accounts at every level.   If the thief has a box of your checks, or even your account and routing numbers, you need to close the accounts to protect your money.
  5. Report the theft to the FTC at 877.438.4338.   You’ll get additional documentation of the theft, including an ID Theft Affidavit that can make it easier to clean up the mess.
  6. Hire a witchdoctor to curse the soul of your attacker.   No, he probably won’t actually turn into a warty toad, but what if?   Maybe the universe will wield the Magic Karma Hammer and beat him into a little greasy stain in the street.
The important thing to remember is to hurry.  The longer you wait, the more damage will be done and the harder it will be to straighten out.  As soon as you find out about the theft, start fixing it.
Have you had your identity stolen?  How did you deal with it?
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  • 9 comments

    Comments

    1. well the very first step is to monitor for ID theft. One of best ways is to look in to all your bills closely every month. Verify all charges for accuracy. If we do that early detection is a possibility

    2. Great tips – I try to keep everything that I’ve got protected, but I am concerned about identity theft more and more these days.

    3. I love number six. I wish it could be that easy.

    4. Thanks goodness I haven’t had that problem. It sounds like a nightmare! I’ll keep this in mind and report it as soon as I suspect anything.

      • I had a credit card number stolen and used to pay a phone bill in Moscow once. It only cost me $100 and my relationship with TCF Bank, but that was bad enough.

    5. Good advice. I have never been a victim of identity theft (knock on wood) but I know people who have and I know it is a real hassle.

    6. I like the witchdoctor advice. Where can I find one? Ha! Great article, thank you.

    7. Good tips. This is a straight up NIGHTMARE if you have to ever go through it.

      I was the victim of Identity Theft a few years back and could have pulled my hair out. What is the number to the witch doctor because I would still like to curse their souls?

      You have to act very quickly to close off your accounts and change your debit/credit cards.

      I would add be ready to wait. The process is long and frustrating to get your credit and identity back in order. The people will make you jump through a thousand hoops to prove you are you, when if they would have just done this in the first place, then you wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place!

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