More often than not, we are left needing more of one thing above all else; time. We beg for it to slow down, and in the end, we wonder where it all went. But there are also sometimes when we can’t wait for it to speed up, be over and done with, such as the case when we fall victim to identity theft.
Unfortunately, identity theft causes problems that can’t be solved overnight or even in a matter of weeks. On average, it can take anywhere between 100 to 200 hours and six months to fix. But in some cases, it can take thousands of hours and years to resolve fully. Here, we take a look at the steps involved in resolving identity theft.
One of the best ways to stop identity theft before it starts is to reduce the amount of data in your digital footprint. But if you’ve already been compromised, the following steps should serve as a good guideline for repairing your identity.
Step 1: Request a Fraud Alert
The first thing you need to do towards your recovery process is to call each of the major credit bureaus and request a fraud alert. This will make it much harder for thieves to open new lines of credit in your name. There are different types of fraud alerts, all of which serve a unique purpose:
- Initial Fraud Alert: If you have reason to believe that someone stole your identity, you can use this alert for up to 90 days
- Extended Fraud Alert: If you are sure your identity has been stolen, you can use this to protect your account for up to 7 years
- Active Duty Alert: If you are in the military and are deployed, you can use this alert which lasts up to one year
Step 2: Review Your Credit Reports
Reach out to TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian to explain that you have been a victim of identity theft, and you need copies of your credit reports immediately. When you receive your reports, print them out for safekeeping and thoroughly review them for any inaccuracies. Take note of any fraudulent data and compile a list of all businesses you need to contact. You will also need to send letters to each bureau requesting they removed fraudulent accounts from your credit report.
Step 3: Contact All of the Companies Where You Know Fraud Happened
Contact each company for every account you don’t recognize and explain that you are a victim of identity theft. Request that they freeze or close all accounts the hied opened or exploited. If fraud occurred at a company you do business with, immediately update your security settings and change your PIN.
Step 4: Create an Official Identity Theft Report
The next step is to file an official report at IdenityTheft.gov. This is an excellent resource for both reporting the crime as well as receiving step-by-step advice on how to handle your recovery. They will also provide you with official letters and documents you can use in your correspondence with credit bureaus and businesses.
But rather than worrying you could be a potential target of identity theft, you can add a line of defenses such as Identity Protection services. Identity Protection services work night and day to give you peace of mind, knowing that you always have someone looking out for you and your information. After all, prevention is much better than finding a cure.