Identity Theft Survival Kit: Your Roadmap to Restoration and Security
September 26, 2023 by Chevron Federal Credit Union
Identity theft can be a distressing experience, causing both emotional turmoil and financial strain. It's an unfortunate reality that many people face today. In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 1.1 million identity theft reports.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the crucial steps to take after discovering you've become a victim of identity theft, so you can regain control and start the journey towards recovery.
Place a fraud alert
The first step is to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This alert will notify creditors and lenders that you may have been a victim of fraud, prompting them to take extra precautions before granting credit in your name.
To place a fraud alert, contact the three major credit bureaus:
By contacting one of these bureaus, they are required by law to notify the other two. The initial alert lasts for one year, but you can extend it if needed.
Upgrade password security
Identity thieves often gain access to personal information through weak or stolen passwords. Strengthening your password security is crucial in preventing further breaches. Here's what you can do:
- Use a password manager to generate strong, unique passwords for each online account.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible to add an extra layer of security.
Close open accounts
If you've discovered that identity thieves have opened fraudulent accounts in your name, take immediate action to close them:
- Contact the financial institution where the fraudulent account was opened. Explain the situation, provide any relevant documentation and request that the account be closed.
- Follow up in writing with a certified letter, detailing the unauthorized account and request a written confirmation of the closure.
Report to the FTC
The FTC operates the Identity Theft Clearinghouse, where your case can be reported. This helps law enforcement and regulatory agencies track identity theft trends and patterns.
To report identity theft to the FTC:
File a police report
Filing a police report is an essential step in documenting identity theft and may be required by creditors and financial institutions. Here's how to do it:
- Visit your local police department or file a report online if available.
- Provide all necessary information, including evidence of identity theft such as account statements, emails or other relevant documents.
- Obtain a copy of the police report for your records.
Create an identity theft victim’s report
Finally, create an identity theft victim's report to attach to your credit reports. This report serves as an official statement explaining that you've been a victim of identity theft. It can help you when dealing with creditors and lenders in the future. To create this report:
- Write a detailed statement explaining the identity theft and its impact on you.
- Include any relevant documentation, such as the police report and correspondence with creditors.
- Send copies of this report to the credit bureaus and the companies where the fraud occurred.
Remember that recovering from identity theft can be a lengthy process, but taking these steps promptly can greatly assist in mitigating the damage and preventing future incidents. You're not alone in this journey, and with time and effort, you can rebuild your financial security and peace of mind.
If you are a victim of identity theft, Chevron Federal Credit Union is here to help. Reach out to us anytime to chat about your unique situation.