Credit Monitoring Services
If you feel you want an added layer of protection, there are many credit monitoring services. This type of protection usually comes with a monthly servicing fee. Check with your banking institution; sometimes, the service may be discounting through your bank. Those services will monitor your credit report for fraudulent activity and send you alerts if an incident occurs. You may also receive a notification of a data breach or read about one in the news.
Four Identity Theft Warning Signs
Sadly, in addition to assistance from credit monitoring services, one of the best methods is to self-monitor. This includes watch for the following issues and taking action if they occur.
Charges or withdrawals you did not make appear on your bank or credit card statement.
Receiving Odd Bills
A bill or statement is received in the mail for a purchase that was not made by you.
Weird Collection Calls
You receive a past due notice or phone call from a creditor or collection agency for a charge not made by you.
Tax Return Issues
You file your tax return but are notified that you have already filed.
What Do You Do If You Have Become a Victim?
As soon as you are suspicious or you determine that your identity has been stolen, timing is of the essence. Do not waste precious time thinking it will resolve itself. You must act immediately to stop further damage and begin the recovery process.
Contact One of the Three Credit Bureaus
Contact any one of the three credit bureaus and request a one-year fraud alert on your file. You do not need to contact all three is this case; you only have to notify one. The credit bureau that you did notify will inform the other two agencies.
Freeze Your Credit
If identity theft occurs you can request a credit freeze from ALL THREE credit bureaus.
Contact the Police
Identity theft is a crime and you will need to file a police report in your home city.
You are responsible for contacting all the companies where the fraudulent accounts were opened. Ask for help completing the following tasks:
• Close accounts with unauthorized charges or that were fraudulently created.
• Request the charges and any delinquencies be removed from your credit history.
• Continue to work with each of the creditors and credit bureaus until all issues are resolved.
• In complicated cases, you may need to seek legal advice.
File with the FTC
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and start a recovery plan by visiting https://www.identitytheft.gov/. Make sure to keep a copy of the complaint as you may need it as you work with the creditors for a resolution. Use the FTC’s informative step-by-step plan on its website and a detailed checklist and some sample letters you can use to send to the creditors https://www.identitytheft.gov/Steps.
Be smart and protect your identity. Remember, no one is excluded from the risk of having their identity stolen or compromised. What is essential are the measures we take to lower the risk.