Despite the introduction and implementation of new cyber security laws, identity theft continues to remain one of the largest online crimes. Every year, hundreds of internet users all across the globe suffer from one or more cases of identity thefts. If you feel like your id has been stolen and misused recently, here are 5 steps that all professional security guards and experts feel you must take.
Step 1: Block Your Card
The most common of all identity theft occurs when someone steals your credit card details and uses it. As soon as your card is stolen or misused, put out a red flag on your credit report and notify your bank and credit lenders immediately. This prevails them from extending your credit limit.
To place a red flag, you will have to notify all three credit rating agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). This results in a 9-day fraud alert on your card. However, a better option would be put to a security freeze over your credit report.
Security freeze advances the thief from using your credit card. In the meantime, you can steps to apply for another card. The advantage of security freeze is that it allows credit agencies to temporarily "thaw" your file so as to legitimize the process of new credit card issuance.
By placing a fraud alert on your credit report, you can claim a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit rating agencies. If you come across any fraudulent item in your credit report, click on it on your credit report online. Although it is difficult to catch the culprit this way, it does give you an idea as to where the culprit has used to apply for credit in their name.
Step 2: Call Your Bank
The next logical step is to call your bank and let them know about the theft. In case your checkbook was stolen too, then the bank needs to be informed as soon as possible.
Step 3: Contact the Directly Affected
Apart from your bank, there are other institutions that you can contact (such as the lenders, your lawyers and house loan agency). These institutions should be informed at the earliest that your credit card has been stolen. This will allow them to relax their payment terms and may extend your credit period, if the need arises.
Step 4: Call the FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a dedicated hotline to deal with all credit card-related identification thefts. By filing a report online or giving them a call, they will be able to guide you on what to do next. The benefit of calling FTC is that they will provide individualized assistance, based on your particular case.
Step 5: Call the Cops
Once you have notified all relevant parties, the last step is to file a police report. Your local law enforcement should be aware of the theft. Your police report, along with FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, together, make up for your ID Theft Report. This report will help you when you're working with any credit reporting agency or other companies.