theft is when another person uses your personal information. Often they use
it to obtain credit or make purchases without your permission or knowledge.
Although we all like to think, “It won’t happen to me!" the
truth is, it can. Naturally, your best bet is prevention, but even the most
high-tech security system can be by-passed, and so can your best efforts to
prevent it. Here is some information on getting your identity back if you suspect
it has been “stolen.”
What should you do if you suspect your identity is being used fraudulently? First, you need to contact the three credit bureaus. They are: Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union. Tell them that you suspect your credit is being used fraudulently, then request that your file be flagged with a fraud alert. The alert will be active for 90-180 days, although you may want to extend it up to seven years. It is always a good idea to add a victim’s report with it, stating “My ID has been used to obtain credit fraudulently.”
You also need to contact your bank and credit card companies to let them know you suspect ID theft. Have the credit card company issue you a new card and account number, and file the old account as “closed at consumer’s request.”
Another step is to get familiar with your credit report. Once you contact a credit bureau, they will send you a current report if you report fraud. Continue to get a new credit report at least once a month to see if fraudulent charges have been added.
Also, keep up with what’s going on with your case; don’t be afraid to be persistent with questions. Know that these measures will not prevent all fraudulent activity but will greatly reduce your liability. At most you will be liable for $50 if you file a report right away.
If credit bureaus and/or creditors are not
being cooperative about removing the fraudulent entries from your credit report,
you may want to seek legal aid.