You look at your online checking account and notice withdrawals you know you didn’t make. Or you get a notice from a debt collector, hounding you about that overdue bill to your acupuncturist in California – only you don’t have an acupuncturist, and you live in Ohio. These are telltale signs of identity theft. What now?
Recovering from identity theft can be a long and tiresome process. But the sooner you take action, the easier it is. Here are your first steps:
- Call the companies where you know fraud has occurred. For instance, if someone has been making withdrawals from your bank account, call the bank immediately.
- Place a fraud alert at one of the credit bureaus. Contact any one of the three major credit bureaus and place a 90-day credit alert (it’s free):
- Experian – Experian.com/fraudalert OR 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion – Transunion.com/fraud OR 1-800-680-7289
- Equifax – Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance OR 1-888-766-0008
Once the fraud alert has been placed, no business can issue credit in your name without verifying your identity first.
- Get your credit reports. You can get a free report from each bureau once a year. If you’ve already gotten yours this year, you can pay to get new ones, or fill out a form for free ones (this takes longer, however). Check through all the reports and circle any unfamiliar items you suspect are fraudulent.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov. Identity theft has become such a common occurrence that the federal government has a dedicated website to help you out: identitytheft.gov. The site will walk you through the report (to go directly to the report, go to identity.gov/Assistant, or you can call them at 1-877-438-4338.
- File a police report. Take a copy of your FTC report with you, as well as any evidence of fraud you have (that notice from the debt collector, your credit reports with items circled, etc.). Get a copy of the police report when you’re done, you may need it later.
And don’t forget, if you have Frankenmuth Insurance, our identity protection services are available at no cost — no matter how often you need them. We’ll pair you with a personal fraud specialist, and they’ll work to resolve your problem and restore your peace of mind. Get started now.