There are many benefits we’ve garnered from integrating our lives with the internet, but there have been certain drawbacks as well. One of the main issues the general population faces during their time online is the risk of identity theft.
Storing much of our personal data and sensitive information online certainly has drawbacks. It can make the task of an identity thief much easier. Rates of identity theft are on the rise, with nearly 5 million reports of fraud taking place last year alone.
If you’ve recently been a victim of identity theft, it is essential that you take the proper steps to rectify the situation to the best of your ability. What steps do you need to take if you’re in that worst-case scenario right now?
Read on, and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
1Work With Credit Bureaus & Banks
What is the most important thing you can do as a victim of identity theft? The first order of business will be to reach to companies that need to know the situation as soon as possible.
When you report identity theft, you begin to put a hold on the damage that can be done.
In most scenarios, this will mean your bank and credit card company. The very first thing you should do when you become aware of fraud is to call both the credit card company and your bank and have those cards canceled.
This way, the person who stole your identity will no longer be able to use this information to make purchases. Make sure you also change all the details associated with your account. Passwords, PIN numbers, usernames, and so forth all need to change.
They have all likely been compromised during the breach of your personal data. This is time to start anew.
Your credit card company should be able to do a number of things for you. You should be able to request that a one-year fraud alert is put into place on your account. That means all creditors will need to take reasonable steps to verify purchases for the next year.
You only need to call one credit bureau to make this request, and that bureau should report the news to the others.
You can and should also request that the fraudulent information in question is removed from your credit report. The bureau will need to research and confirm the disputes you are listing, but they should be able to wipe them from your record in due time.
Last but not least, put a temporary credit freeze on your report. This will make it so that the identity thief will not be able to open a new account in your name.
2Ensure Limited Losses
It can be painful to realize what you’ve lost as a result of identity theft. Luckily, there are laws in place that can help to limit how much damage the theft of your identity can do.
Exactly what you’ll need to do to limit your losses and how much you’ll be able to prevent will depend on the state in which you reside. Different states have different laws regarding this matter.
In the vast majority of states, you won’t be responsible for any of the debt that is a result of a fraudulent new account being opened. As long as you didn’t have anything to do with a new account being opened, you shouldn’t be any liability for the purchases made on that account.
You’ll be happy to hear that you also won’t have to face too steep of charges for any purchases made without the proper authorization on your credit card. There are federal laws in place that limit your liability for this kind of thing to a simple $50.
It can be a bit trickier with your debit card, as this kind of federal protection is not in place. The best identity theft protection will be to cancel your debit card as quickly as possible. This is where an identity thief can do the most damage.
The sooner you report identity theft and the loss of your debit card, the lower your potential liability will be.
3Take Legal Action If Need Be
Why was your identity stolen? In some instances, you may have no idea of how your information and data got away from you. It might take some investigating to find out or you might never know.
In other instances, you might find that your data was compromised due to poor security practices on the part of a business you’ve given this information to. We often give personal information out as part of the process of working with a large number of businesses and services.
If you’re facing large losses due to the negligence of a company that you’ve done business with, you might have legal recourse available to you. You have certain rights as a consumer that need to be protected. You might be able to secure compensation.
How can you go about this? You should secure legal help as soon as possible. It’s important to go to a trusted and experienced source such as Consumerprotection.net to ensure you can make the strongest case possible.
This won’t be a necessary step in all identity theft cases, but it can make a major difference in the ones that do fall under this umbrella.
Stopping Identity Theft Damage
No one wants to be a victim of identity theft, but it does happen. If you’ve been a recent victim of this kind of theft, it’s important to act fast. The above steps should be the first things you should do following your realization.
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