Are you a victim of identity theft? If so, you must act quickly so the thief can't cause any more damage to your finances. You need to learn what to do and who to contact if your identity has been stolen. Credit Cards May Limit Your Liability No matter how large of a shopping spree the thief goes on, credit cards often limit your liability to around $50 if you contact them quickly. This is the same for bank-issued credit and debit cards.
If they were used illegally and you contact the bank within two days, your losses will be very low. If you do not report it fast enough (within the first 60 days) the loss limit is higher, around $500. If you wait longer than that, you may have to pay all of what the thief spent. Reporting the Fraud This is the first thing you must do to reclaim your identity. You need to contact the agencies listed below.
Credit-Reporting Agencies You need to contact a credit reporting agency such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. You should ask them to put a fraud alert on your report, so companies won't issue credit to the thief. You can ask for an initial alert, to last for 90 days, or and extended alert, which can last for seven years. You can get a credit report when you file a fraud report. You should check it closely for anything that doesn't look right.
You need to make sure that the fraud doesn't hurt your credit score. Creditors After you contact a credit reporting agency, contact your creditors. Cancel your credit cards if you see that they have been used. You will then have to open new accounts. Make sure that the closed accounts are labeled as "closed at consumer's request", so it won't hurt your credit score.
The Police The next people to contact are the police. Someone stole from you, so they committed a crime and you need to file a police report. Debt-Collection Agencies You may be contacted by a debt-collection agency for a debt that the thief created.
Make sure to tell them what happened, and then contact the creditor that the debt-collection agency got their information from all in your effort to prevent more identity theft Social Security Administration You only need to contact the Social Security Administration if someone has been using your social security number. It is possible to change your number, but it can be quite a hassle. Check Issuers/Agencies If check have been stolen, you need to contact your bank right away to close your account. You also need to contact Certegy (1-800-437-5120) and Telecheck (1-800-710-9898), the major check verification firms. Contact SCAN at 1-800-296-0170 if you think your identity has been stolen.
They track bad checks through the United States. Also, you can see if any checking accounts have been opened in your name by calling Chex Systems at 1-800-428-9623. ATM-Card Issuers You also need to contact the company that issued your ATM card to cancel it if it has been stolen.
Use brand new passwords once you get new cards. Telephone/Utility Service Providers/Agencies Make sure to contact the phone company if you have a landline to tell them your identity has been stolen. Give them a password and tell them not to change your service without that password. Do the same for your Utilities and Cell Phone service. Post Office You do not want a thief to change your address to commit more crimes, so make sure you let the post office know about the crimes committed.
Driver's License Contact the DMV if you think your license has been stolen. U.S. Department of State, Passport Services If you think someone may have gotten a passport in your name, contact the U.
S. Department of State Passport Services Office at: Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section, 1111-19th Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036. The phone number is (202) 955-0430. U.
S. Trustee To save your credit from someone who may have filed for bankruptcy with your identity, contact the U.S. Trustee at the nearest Department of Justice. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) If tax fraud has been committed with your identity, contact the IRS at 1-877-777-4778. Attorney General You can talk to the attorney general to clear your name of crimes someone else committed in your name.
Reclaiming and Protecting Your Identity Unfortunately, it is difficult to reclaim your identity, but it is something that must be done. Be very careful not to let it happen to you again.
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