Identity Theft: 5 Steps to Take if You've Become a Victim

Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in today's society. Here are some of the most important steps to take if you have become a victim of identity theft.

1. Notify Financial Institutions

One of the first things that you will need to do is notify your financial institutions. This is especially true if you believe that someone has acquired your debit or credit card information. For example, if someone is using your debit card, you want to contact your bank immediately. Ask to speak to someone in the fraud department and tell him or her exactly what is going on. If you report the incident fast enough, you will not be liable for any of the charges on your account. The financial institution will also be able to prevent future access to your account by inactivating your debit card. You might also want to contact all of your other financial institutions to let them know that an identity theft has occurred. This may help prevent future problems for you.

2. Notify Creditors

You will also want to contact your creditors to let them know that an identity theft has taken place. If someone has charged something in your name, you will want to dispute the charge with the creditor. Let them know that it was not you that made this charge and they need to remove it from your record. Depending on how quickly you act, they may be able to remove the charge from your account. They will also be able to prevent any future charges in your name.

3. Contact Credit Bureaus

You should then contact the credit bureaus. Let the credit bureaus know that someone has stolen your identity and may be using it to obtain new credit. When this happens, the credit bureaus will put out a fraud alert. A credit freeze will most likely go into effect as well. This means that whenever someone tries to open a new account in your name or obtain additional credit, he or she will be unable to do so. If you try to make a large purchase on credit, your identity will be verified before the transaction will be allowed. This will make it very difficult for the thief to continue utilizing your identity.

4. Contact the Police

You should also contact your local police department to let them know that an identity theft has taken place. They may not have a specific report to file in the event of an identity theft. However, they will be able to file some type of report on your behalf.

5. Contact the FTC

In addition to calling your local police department, you will also want to contact the Federal Trade Commission. They will not investigate the crime themselves, but they will be able to pass your information along to the proper authorities.