Despite your best efforts, identity theft can still happen to you. If it does, knowing the steps to take is your next line of defense in avoiding a serious loss. Here are four steps from Lacher McDonald CPAs to take as soon as possible:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Call one of the three consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. The company you call is required to contact the other two. This will keep the thief from opening any accounts in your name.
- Call the credit card company or bank of any account you believe has been tampered with and close the account. You may need to do this in writing. Keep good notes as to whom you spoke to, time, and date of call. Make copies of written correspondence for your records.
- Call the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint. By doing this along with filing a police report, you will be entitled to certain protections including blocking fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report, ensuring debts do not reappear on your credit report, and preventing a company from continuing to collect debts resulting from identity theft.
- File a report with the police in the community where the theft took place. This is important for good old fashioned “someone stole my wallet theft.”
One of the most difficult to stop causes of identity theft is personal information kept by businesses. Certain businesses, banks, and credit unions are required under the Red Flags Rule to develop and implement an Identity Theft Prevention Program. Due to a revision in the law in December 2010, many businesses are not subject to this law and, therefore, may not have adequate safeguards in place to protect your information. This puts the responsibility of keeping your information safe on you.