The primary objective of this article is to help you avoid becoming another identity theft victim. However if you do become an identity theft victim, it is a very sensible idea to have a contingency plan ready and waiting. Here’s what I suggest:
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, then you must take action immediately! Many people spend so much time worrying and panicking that they inadvertently delay the reporting procedure. Most bank and credit fraud will take place within the first 24 hours of obtaining a victim’s details; this is obvious really because the longer the thief waits, the more time you will have to block your accounts.
Therefore, the quicker you act, the greater the chance you will have of limiting the damage to your accounts, to your credit file, and to your identity. As soon as you realize you have become a victim, or even suspect your details have fallen into the wrong hands, you need to notify the following:
- Your Banks
- Your Credit Providers
- The Police
- All 3 Credit Bureau’s (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion)
It is absolutely crucial to notify each of these contacts with your full details. Be sure to make a note of the date, time and if possible the name of the person you spoke with. This information will make the situation much easier if there is an issue of liability later on.
The respective agencies will take action in line with their particular procedures, which will certainly involve placing blocks on your details and accounts. You should also ensure that Experian, Equifax and TransUnion all place ‘Fraud Alerts’ on your credit files. Not sure how to do that? I’ll explain:
How Does Fraud Alert Work?
When you suspect or know your private information has been compromised, you can ask each credit referencing bureau to place a fraud alert against your file. Then, when somebody attempts to open a new credit account or obtain a credit service in your name, the lender using your credit report will be prompted to contact you using the details found on your report to verify it is in fact YOU who is applying.
It is a quick and simple process to place fraud alerts on your credit files. Contact each of the credit bureaus and inform them that you want to flag your file for fraud. An alert will be activated within 24 hours and you will also receive a letter of confirmation to reflect your request.
A secondary effect of placing a fraud alert is that your name and details will be removed from all pre-approved credit card offers for a period of two years. The fraud alert will initially only remain on your report for 90 days, but you can apply to have this extended. You can contact the three main credit referencing bureaus online or by mail at:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 1000
If you’re a LifeLock subscriber, you can avoid all this hassle by using their free WalletLock service, which assigns you a recovery specialist who will personally help you notify all of your account providers including the referencing bureaus. It guarantees you against the damage of identity theft.
Plus they will put things in place to protect you from having this happen in the first place. And if it does happen? Well, they have a $1,000,000 service guarantee! Wow!