What to do if you’re the victim of stolen identity
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Realizing you have been the victim of identity theft can bring a wave of emotions. Anger that your information was compromised. Concern about how you will recover from the identity theft.
It is important to know the steps to take if your identity is stolen.
Unemployment identity theft on the rise
Unemployment is higher than ever, and fraudsters are taking advantage by filing false unemployment claims. If you get a communication about unemployment and have NOT filed for these benefits, your personal information may have been used to file a fake unemployment claim.
Immediate steps to take if your identity is stolen
Acting quickly is the best way to reduce the damage that fraud can cause. Once you have already confirmed the fraud, take these steps:
File a claim
If you believe you are a victim of unemployment identity theft, file a claim immediately with your state’s unemployment office:
Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report
An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. By placing an alert on your report, it will require a business to verify your identity before it can issue any credit in your name. This may also mean that the business will try to contact you.
Contact one credit reporting company
There are three nationwide credit reporting companies - TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Call one of the companies and report that you are an identity theft victim.
- Ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit file and confirm they will contact the other two companies.
- Make sure the credit reporting company has your current contact information so they can get a hold of you.
Mark your calendar for 1 year
While placing a fraud alert is free, it will only stay on your credit report for one (1) year.
Update your records
Record the dates you contacted the credit reporting companies. If you sent a letter, update your file.
Consider a credit freeze
Unlike a fraud alert, a credit freeze means potential creditors can’t get your report. There is no cost to place a freeze, for any state.
Keep in mind, the freeze also applies for legitimate credit checks you may need. If you needed a credit report because you were applying for a loan, a potential job, renting an apartment, etc., you would need to call each credit bureau and have them lift the freeze temporarily.
Order your credit reports
One of your rights when you place a credit freeze is to receive a copy of your credit report. Make sure to ask each company to show only the last four digits of your Social Security number on your report. This provides an additional level of security and minimizes the risk of your Social Security number being snagged.
If your credit report reviews specific accounts that have been targeted, contact that business. Ask to speak to someone in the fraud department and then follow up the conversation with something in writing.
In your communication, reiterate who you spoke with, the date, and any action that was agreed upon. Make sure to keep a copy for your own records. Also, consider sending your letters by certified mail, which will create a record of your communication.
Create an Identity Theft Report
Document, document, document. Your Identity Theft Report is comprised of your Identity Theft Affidavit and the Police Report.
An Identity Theft Report can help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report, stop a company from collecting debts that are a result of the theft, and help get information from other companies about accounts the fraudster might have opened or abused.
Identity Theft Affidavit
When you submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it will contain all the details of the fraud. This printed copy is known as the Identity Theft Affidavit.
Report stolen identity to the police. Make sure to get a copy of the police report or the report number. When you file the police report, bring a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit.
Consider an extended fraud alert
If you have created an Identity Theft Report, you may want to place an extended fraud alert on your credit file.
- This stays in effect for seven years
- You can get two free credit reports for the first year from all three of the credit reporting companies
- Ensure the credit reporting companies remove your name from any prescreened marketing lists for credit offers for five years
At Numerica, we understand that a situation like this creates stress and anxiety about the safety of your account information.
If you have been a victim of identity fraud, contact our Fraud Department at 1.800.433.1837.