8 things to do if your identity is stolen
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Having your identity stolen can involve a lot of red tape and stress. Here are eight things to consider if you become a victim:
- Lock the compromised account(s). Dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised accounts and ask to have them locked or even closed.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This helps alert creditors that someone may be trying to open accounts in your name. Creditors are then required to contact you and verify your identity before extending the credit. Alerts can be placed on your file by any of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion).
- Consider a credit freeze. A credit freeze will make it impossible for the scammer to open a credit line or loan in your name. Lenders that you don’t already do business with cannot access your reports without a special-protected account or PIN that you would provide.
- Alert the FTC. Visit identitytheft.gov and follow the site’s instructions.
- Strengthen your passwords. In addition to changing them, use strong and different passwords for all your online accounts.
- Check your account statements. It’s always a good idea to frequently check your account statements. It’s especially encouraged to do so frequently when your identity has been compromised to look for suspicious activity.
- Open new credit cards and accounts. Replace compromised accounts that you’ve shut down so you can minimize your inconvenience.
- Repair your credit. Be extremely mindful about paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low.