According to a 2013 study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research more than 12.6 million adults were the victim of identity theft in 2012 (one million more than in the prior year) and that number will likely continue to rise. By checking your credit card statements and credit reports regularly, you can detect suspicious activity early and get it resolved before it takes a bigger hit on your finances.
Below, we lay out the steps to take if you think you’re the victim of identity theft.
Step 1: Contact One of the Credit BureausReport the suspicious activity to one of the three credit bureaus (Experian®, TransUnion® or Equifax®), so that an initial security or fraud alert can be added to your credit profile. This will alert creditors to check your identity before approving new lines of credit.
Remember to keep a log of each phone call and email regarding your case, should you need to reference them later.
Step 2: Review Your Credit Report(s) Carefully When you inform the credit bureaus about your case, you’re entitled to a credit report to review. If you inform one of the credit bureaus about the suspicious activity, the information will be shared with the other bureaus as well.
Understand how to check your credit report for identity theft. Any information that looks unfamiliar – including utility accounts, credit lines, addresses and names – should be reported.
Step 3: Complete an Identity Theft ReportAn Identity Theft Report will help you place an extended fraud alert on your credit profile, have fraudulent data removed from your credit report(s) and inhibit companies from collecting debts resulting from identity theft.
First, fill out a complaint form on the FTC’s website and print the Identity Theft Affidavit . Use that to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report. You can also obtain an identity theft report by filing an official report about the identity theft to a federal, state, or other local law enforcement agency.
Step 4: Request Removal of Fraudulent Accounts The credit bureaus will require certain items in order to remove fraudulent activity on a credit report:
Proof of identity:
1. Documentation of fraudulent data included in your credit report
2. A statement from you that the suspicious activity was not conducted by you
3. A copy of an official identity theft report (see Step 3)
Once a bureau has received the required information, that bureau will remove the fraudulent activity from your credit report.
After following these steps, it’s important to continue monitoring your credit regularly as a compromised identity could be subject to multiple instances of fraudulent credit. Members of free have access to fraud resolution agents who can help one through the resolution process.
Learning how suspicious activity can be detected and resolved early is one of the best things you can do to help protect yourself from the harmful effects of identity theft and identity fraud.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. © 2013 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved.