HELP! My Identity Has Been Stolen!
What can you do if your identity is stolen? Discovering that someone else is opening accounts with your personal information is terrifying. All of a sudden, bill collectors are contacting you, accusing you of owing them money that you had nothing to do with.
Thankfully, there are systems set up to help people that experience this stressful situation. The government, law enforcement, and credit agencies are ready to help identity theft victims.
If you are a victim of identity theft, act quickly and follow these steps:
Contact Credit Reporting Agencies
Contact any of the three credit reporting agencies and ask that a free, one year fraud alert be placed on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the law requires the agency you call to contact the other two.
Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
Experian — 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
Obtain a copy of your credit report and carefully review it. This will better equip you to report the theft and work to remove fraudulent accounts.
File a Report With the FTC
Complete an online complaint form with the FTC at www.identitytheft.gov. Based on the information you enter, the FTC complaint system will create your Identity Theft Affidavit, which you’ll need to complete other steps. Print the affidavit and save it immediately because once you leave the page, you will not be able to access it again.
Notify Local Law Enforcement
Go to your local police department and explain that you need to file a report because someone stole your identity. Be sure to take the following documentation with you: FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, photo ID, proof of your address, and proof of theft. Once the police report is completed, obtain a copy for your records.
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may be able to obtain personal identification with it. Contact the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles and ask them to place a flag on your license number.
Close Fraudulent Accounts
Contact the fraud department of each business where a fraudulent account was opened. Explain that your identity was stolen and ask them to close the account. Be prepared to provide them with a copy of your Identity Theft Affidavit and police report.
If there are fraudulent charges to existing accounts, follow the same procedure for having those charges removed. Ask the business to send you a letter confirming the removal of the fraudulent charges.
Correct Your Credit Report
If someone steals your identity, you have the right to remove fraudulent information from your credit report. Once it is removed or blocked, companies can’t try to collect the debt from you. If you have an Identity Theft Report, credit bureaus must honor your request to block this information.
To correct your credit report, write a letter to each of the three credit bureaus explaining which information on your report came from identity theft and request that it be blocked. Include a copy of your Identity Theft Affidavit from the FTC, your police report, and proof of identity.
Additional steps can be taken to minimize the impact of identity theft. Monitor your credit reports, change your passwords regularly, and utilize identity theft protection and resolution services. At Centennial Bank, we offer ID Protect as a benefit of our 5 Star Protection account. With ID Protect, customers receive daily credit file monitoring, identity monitoring, and automated alerts of key changes to their credit reports.
No one wants to be a victim of identity theft, but it can be hard to avoid given how much personal information is stored by various companies and organizations. Rest easier by educating yourself with the steps outlined above.