Hackers learn new ways to steal your information every day. Even as more businesses take steps to ensure security on your personal information, identity theft remains one of the fastest- growing crimes in the United States. It can take years to recover from having your information stolen and misused.
If you become a victim of identity theft, don’t let it slide and get out of control. Take these steps to restore your credit and financial portfolio and prevent future hacks into your information.
1. Call the companies where fraud occurred.
Call your bank’s or credit card company’s fraud department. Explain details about your fraud situation. Ask the bank or credit card to close or freeze your accounts. Go through all transactions to confirm which ones were fraudulent. Change the logins, passwords and PINS for all of your accounts.
2. Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports.
Experian, TransUnion and Equifax offer free 90-day fraud alert. Fraud alerts are free and make it difficult for criminals to open new accounts in your name. If there is an alert on your report, a business will have to verify your identity before issuing any new credit. The 90-day fraud alert may be renewed at the end of its duration. Pull your free annual credit report and make note of any transaction you don’t recognize.
3. Report identity theft to the FTC.
Fill out the identity theft report form and include as many details as possible. Create an account with the FTC for step-by-step instructions, automatic updates, progress tracking, and pre-filled forms and letters you may need to submit to financial institutions. An identity theft report proves to businesses someone stole your identity and helps protect your rights.
4. File a report with your local police department.
Take a copy of your identity theft report from the FTC, your government-issued photo ID, proof of address and any proof of theft. Explain the details to the police and file a report. Ask for a copy of the police report. Filing a local police report can help authorities find the criminal(s) responsible and help prevent others from becoming victims.
Take a few deep breaths and complete the steps above. Next, you’ll need to ensure all accounts are closed and that you have proof you are not responsible or liable for fraudulent transactions. Here’s what to do:
1. Close new accounts opened in your name.
With your identity theft report from the FTC, contact each business where fraudulent accounts were opened. Explain that your identity was stolen, close the account(s) and request a letter confirming: a) the fraudulent account isn’t yours; b) you aren’t liable for the account; and c) the account is removed from your credit report. Keep this letter in your records and record whom you contacted and when.
2. Remove bogus charges from your accounts.
Like the previous step, call any businesses with which you experienced fraudulent charges. Explain that your identity was stolen, specify the fraudulent charges and ask the business to remove the charges. Again, ask the business for a letter that confirms the charges were removed. Keep this letter and record whom you contacted and when.
3. Correct your credit report.
Write to each of the three credit bureaus with a copy of your identity theft report and proof of your identity (name, address, social security number). Explain which information on your report resulted from identity theft and ask the bureaus to block the fraudulent information. Note: You have the right to remove fraudulent information from your credit report. It’s called blocking. Once information is blocked, it won’t show up on your credit report and collections agencies cannot hold you responsible for those debts. Credit bureaus must honor your requests if you’ve filed an identity theft report.
4. Consider adding extended fraud alert or credit freeze.
Extended fraud alerts and credit freezes can help prevent further theft of your information. Explore your options and determine which one will work best for you.
For more information on what to do after you’ve been a victim of identity theft, visit identitytheft.gov for instructions on special circumstances and additional steps you may need to take.
At vLoan, we keep our customer’s information secure to prevent any data breaches and keep hackers out. If you’ve experienced identity theft and would like to talk to someone at vLoan about your mortgage, call 1-844-77-vLoan to discuss your next steps.