Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. If you are a victim of Identity Theft that means someone is using your name and identifying information to steal your identity. Once the crime is discovered, the crook moves on to his or her next victim, oftentimes leaving you and other victims to deal with the fraudulent debts.
If you are a victim, taking the following steps will help reduce monetary damages and time spent cleaning up your credit:
- Contact the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and request a fraud alert be placed on your credit file.
Request and audit a free annual copy of your credit report to make sure no new unwanted activity has occurred.
- Place a credit security freeze on your credit file, preventing new credit accounts from being opened in your name. Make sure to remove the freeze when you are ready to apply for credit.
- If you are the victim of identity theft and haven't already done so, file a police report as you may need this documentation to prove the theft.
- To permanently remove fraudulent information from your credit reports, send a copy of the police and written dispute to the credit reporting bureaus.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at www.FTCComplaintAssistant.gov or call (877) 438-4338.
Source: National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Identity Theft - "What to Know, What to Do"