August 31st, 2023 8:11 AM by Sam Kader MLO# 130505
In you think that your personal information is being used fraudulently, here's what you need to do:
START TAKING NOTES. You need to be organized to fight this. Write down dates, any information you received in email or postal mail, what number you tried calling, the name of the customer service representative you talked to and the case or incident number they assign you at the end of your call. Request businesses to provide you with transactions made with your name. A template from Washington state Attorney General's office can be downloaded here.
FILE A POLICE REPORT. You are likely to get some resistance but having that police report is another key piece of evidence so you won't be on the hook for any of this thief's activity. You are entitle for a copy of that report once it's done.
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT. Contact the main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) and Chex Systems to add fraud alerts to your file. This should prevent someone from being able to use your information to open new line of credits or bank accounts. According to Experian®, by law, credit bureaus must activate a credit freeze within 24 hours of receiving a request online or by phone, and they must unfreeze it within one hour of that request. Send a copy of the police report to the three major credit bureaus.
REPORT IT. File report with the FBI's Internet Compliant Center and with the Federal Trade Commission. These reports will serve as evidence to keep defend yourself if fraudulent charges are made in your name . You can also contact the FTC about identity theft directly by calling 877-438-4335.
PUT BANKS IN YOUR SPEED DIAL. Contact the banks' fraud lines. Reach to any financial institution where you think a new account has been opened and let them know it's fraudulent. Call the banks specific fraud departments and not the general 800 numbers.
Here are additional tips on how to minimize identity theft.
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT. It takes 15 minutes to do this with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) and even less time to unfreeze when you are applying for a loan. It's free to freeze and unfreeze your credit and you don't need any paid upgrades.
REVIEW YOUR CREDIT CARD AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR. You are eligible to get a free copy of your credit report from each bureau annually. (Due to the pandemic, you are eligible for free weekly credit reports through December 2023.) Go through it and make sure everything looks right. Visit annualcreditreport.com to request yours.CHECK YOUR PASSWORDS. Make sure your sensitive accounts — things like your email and your bank accounts — have strong, unique passwords. If you use the same password everywhere, one account gets hacked and your data are leaked, then all of your accounts are vulnerable. PC Magazine, Wired and CNET all have recommendations for password managers that make it so you don’t have to remember every single one. Check Have I Been Pwned to see which passwords have already appeared in data breaches.ADD TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. Yes, it is annoying to spend an extra 10 seconds waiting for a text or authentication alert when you log in to your email or bank account. But it’s the best way to secure them. Having two-factor on my Gmail account meant the people who stole your identity were never able to fully access your bank accounts or credit cards.SIGN UP FOR ALERTS FROM YOUR BANKS. Log in to your bank account and credit card accounts and figure out how to add text or email alerts so you’ll be notified immediately if someone tries to open a new one.NEVER GIVE ANYONE YOUR BANK PASSWORD OR VERIFICATION CODE. Anyone asking you to tell them your password or a code you were just texted is trying to get it to access your account.REVIEW YOUR BANK STATEMENT RECULARLY. See any transactions you don’t recognize? Call your bank right away to investigate.OPT OUT OF PRESCREENED CREDIT CARD OFFERS. These can be a data gold mine for thieves. Shred any you do receive before tossing them. Visit optoutprescreen.com to stop them.
DON'T CARRY YOUR SOCIAL SECURTY CARD IN YOUR WALLET. Thieves probably can still get your Social Security number in other ways, thanks to countless data breaches. But at least don’t give it to them.RETRIEVE MAIL PROMPTLY, AND STOP IT IF YOU'RE GOING OUT OF TOWN. Stolen mail is one of the easiest ways for thieves to get your information. Minimize opportunities for your mail to be stolen, especially if you’re expecting any sensitive financial documents like a new debit card or checkbook.