What should you do if you become a victim of identity theft?
No IDEA? How Should You Respond to Identity Theft? is our article for today, and it has a solution for your issue.
Identity theft is a sort of criminal activity in which someone’s financial and personal information is stolen and exploited without that person’s consent.
A person’s information may be used by identity thieves to submit false Tax Returns or Health Insurance Claims, apply for credit cards or loans in the victim’s name, raid the victim’s bank account or use their credit card, or simply sell the information to another third party.
Even if you never use a computer, Identity theft is still a possibility. By taking your wallet, listening in on a phone call, dumpster diving, or by picking up a restaurant receipt with your Account Number on it, malicious individuals may be able to access personal information (such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, and addresses).
A thief could be able to pose as you to make purchases, create new accounts, or apply for loans if they have access to enough information.
Data about people’s identities and finances may now be stolen more easily thanks to the internet. The internet has made it easier and more practical. The majority of businesses and other organizations save customer information in databases, so if a thief has access to that database, they may focus on several people at once rather than just one at a time.
Additionally, the internet has made it simpler for thieves to sell or trade information, making it more challenging for law authorities to locate and capture the offenders.
Whatever the manner, identity theft can take place in a number of ways, but the end result is always the same: Your personal information has been exploited, which might negatively affect your reputation, your personal records, including those relating to your Job History, Health, and Credit.
What actions should you take if you’ve been the victim of identity theft?
These days, it may be hard to protect your sensitive information without running the danger of a malfunction. However, there are several easy precautions you may take to avoid falling victim to identity theft.
The sooner you handle anything suspect if you detect it, the better. Identity thieves may increase their activity and make it much harder to recover if they realize they can get away with their crimes.
Thus, we’ve listed some actions you may take in this article if you think an Identity thief has taken advantage of you.
10 Steps to be taken respond to the theft of your identity
Step 1. Research Your Situation
Identity theft can take many different forms. How has that influenced you? Your case, if you become a victim, may involve one or more of the following fraud types: Credit, Banking, Taxes, Employment, Government benefits, Medical, and Criminal.
Knowing the source of the attack is essential before you can address the issue and receive assistance for identity theft.
Rather of targeting renowned online services, as was the case with traditional identity theft, hackers are increasingly ‘dumpster diving’ for personal information on receipts and credit card bills.
Online dating services, shopping websites, and banking gateways all contain a plethora of customer data.
There are several signs that you may have been a victim of identity theft, such as the opening of new credit accounts in your name, transactions made without your knowledge, or changes made to your contact information with government organisations.
As soon as you become aware that you have been a victim, analyse your most recent internet activity:
- Did you answer any emails from what looked to be financial institutions informing you that your account was suspended or being investigated?
- Have you downloaded any media files or video players from unknown senders’ attachments?
- Have any of the frequent E-commerce sites you visit recently been the target of a cyberattack?
The first and most crucial stage in fighting identity theft is to assess your position and analyse it. Only then can you move forward with any further action.
Step 2. Submit a fraud alert to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC gathers data on incidents of identity theft. Although it cannot bring criminal charges, law enforcement organisations like the FBI may utilise its information to find offenders.
Visit www.identitytheft.gov to report identity theft to the FTC. You will receive a rehabilitation plan as well as pre-written letters and paperwork as part of the reporting procedure, which you may use to contact the police and refute false allegations.
It might be difficult to prove you didn’t create freshly established accounts, disputing them can be difficult. But having FTC paperwork on hand could be useful.
Remember that impersonating someone else or utilising their information for financial advantage are both considered forms of identity theft. The FTC is not required to be notified of a credit card number theft or other security breach.
How do I report identity theft?
In the US, you may report identity theft to the FTC by filling out the form online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phoning 877-438-4338 and giving as much information as you can.
You will receive a recovery plan and an identity theft report, which will serve as proof that your identity has been taken, if you report the incident to the FTC.
Step 3. Keep all accounts’ security on hold
Future fraud may be avoided using Security Freeze. In contrast, a security freeze prevents anybody from ever checking your credit record, which makes it impossible for someone to obtain a credit account in your name.
Step 4. Examine your bank accounts
Always keep a watch on all of your bank accounts during times of crises like these. Close any accounts that were created without your consent and any accounts you already have where there has been suspicious activity.
Step 5. Check for Viruses on Your Computer
A computer infected with malicious software might enable a hacker to steal confidential data you could be entering to handle online transactions, such as bank, credit card, and other sensitive identity information, if you use your computer to access sensitive online accounts.
Run your anti-virus application to check for any viruses that need to be eliminated if you think your computer is contaminated.
You may use McAfee Antivirus Plus, which is excellent for computers and other devices alike.
Read related: How to Remove any Viruses on iPhone? (2023)
Step 6. Register a Police Report
Even though, they can’t truly assist you in getting this problem resolved. Police could, however, just accept the report as a courtesy and choose not to investigate. You will need evidence that you reported the incident to the police, so this step is still valuable to you.
Step 7. Keep a Database of Your Conduct
Keep track of the actions you take to resolve the issue. Include the phone numbers you contacted, the individuals you spoke to, the dates of your conversations, faxes, and mails.
Keep copies of any affidavits, reports, papers, communications, etc.
In situations like these, it’s easy to become confused about things, so it’s best to keep a thorough record of all the steps you do to prevent mucking up the matter more.
Step 8. Request credit reports for evaluation
The next approach is to follow up with the three main credit agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and ask them to add a fraud alert to your account.
Protecting your credit from future harm should be high on your list of priorities if you are impacted by fraud since it may have a severe influence on your credit score and have long-lasting ramifications.
In the US, get in touch with one of the major credit bureaus, which are:
Request a copy of your credit report and request a 90-day fraud alert on your accounts. These organizations are required to notify the other two after you contact one of them.
Fraud alerts can be added at no cost and stay on your report for a full year. After the first year, you may purchase a new alert if you want to retain it longer.
Since companies must get in touch with you before extending credit while a fraud warning is present on your record, it becomes more difficult for fraudsters to create accounts in your name.
The fraud warning stays on your credit record for a year and alerts every institution that demands a copy of it that your identity could have been stolen.
It’s possible that fraudsters may continue to use your personal information, which they surely will, and it might not be long before someone tries to start a false account in your name.
The fraud warning prompts a creditor to verify that you are the applicant by looking at them more closely.
You simply need to ask one of the credit bureaus to place a fraud warning, and that company should let the other two know.
You could receive a fraud alert for free. Consider that case as well.
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you can add a seven-year extended fraud alert to your report.
You must submit an Identity Theft Report before sending the extended alert to the US.
Step 9. Change all affected account passwords
Any account that was subject to fraud should have all of its passwords changed.
Now this is the perfect moment to make a strong password if one of your current accounts doesn’t already have one. A strong password consists of a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers, and is at least should be 12 characters long.
On any account that was subject to fraud, you should change all the passwords. Create a strong password right away if one of your current accounts doesn’t already have one.
A strong password has at least 12 characters and combines upper- and lowercase letters with symbols, numerals, and other characters.
Your password is more easily cracked by thieves the shorter and simpler it is. Avoid selecting anything apparent like a series of digits (“1234”) or details about you that a someone who knows you may deduce, your date of birth or the name of a pet.
Instead of using passwords, you might want to think about using “passphrases.” The initial letter of each word in a meaningful phrase that is simple to remember serves as the password in a passphrase.
Never write down your passwords and stay away from using same password across different accounts. Consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords if you have too many to remember.
Keep in mind to update your passwords frequently, ideally every six months.
Step 10. Inspect bank and credit card statements for more unauthorized charges
Take a look at your other accounts and previous statements in addition to your credit reports to look for any other charges that are unfamiliar to you.
Recheck accounts that are inactive or are only sometimes utilized.
Call the banking institution to report the issue and ask that the account be frozen or cancelled if you discover unexplained charges.
In order to find out how to effectively prevent additional losses, identity theft victims should consult with their financial institutions.
Closing and restarting accounts, even those that haven’t been compromised, will typically be required in certain situations.
Although it might be time-consuming, it is vital to prevent a thief from having future access to your funds.
Because scam artists nowadays are more skilled, customers must also change. Keep your personal information safe, and if you become a victim of identity theft, use the advice above to lessen the impact.
Understand the scenario and react appropriately. The most crucial actions to do in the situation of any type of identity theft are to freeze the account, Request credit reports for evaluation, inspect bank and credit card statements for more unauthorized charges and file a Fraud Alert with a Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You’ll make yourself a more difficult target for thieves as you take efforts to secure your identity and information, and you could even deter them from their plans.
You’ll be able to rest easier knowing that your information is secure as long as you keep an eye on your credit, safeguard your devices and accounts, avoid phishing and other scams, and block unauthorized individuals from accessing your documents.
Understanding that identity and all information must be protected is crucial. And if you find yourself in this kind of scenario where you believe you may have fallen victim to Identity theft, don’t worry; we’ve got your back. We made every effort to include information regarding What to Do if You Believe You Are a Victim of Identity Theft.
I hope that by now you have some guidance on how to handle such scenarios.
We have outlined all the fundamental actions you should take as soon as you become aware if you are a victim of identity theft of any form.
You must guard against identity theft and fraud by being vigilant. It’s important to avoid taking the protection of your personal data for granted since identity thieves frequently target victims when they’re least prepared.
Always be on guard when it comes to your personal safety. Because we are generally the only ones to blame for these kinds of issues.
And as we often say, “Prevention is better than cure,” it’s critical to take care of these sorts of stresses and not neglect them in order to ensure that anything similar don’t ever happens.
I hope this article was enjoyable for you to read, and was helpful in fixing the Identity Theft issue.