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What To Do When Your Identity Is Stolen
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What To Do When Your Identity Is Stolen

It can be a very scary thing to lose or misplace your wallet. There's a good chance that someone else may pick it up, and you really never know what they might actually do with your information. Alternatively if you answered an e-mail that you later found out was a fraudulent phishing or forged e-mail, then you might be afraid of what the people on the other end of that e-mail are going to do with the information you gave them.

There are things that you can do to prevent any financial loss occurring from identity, and you may be wondering but what those steps are. In this article, I'll try to explain what to do when your identity is stolen.

Steps To Take If Your Identity Is Stolen

The first thing that you want to do is contact one of the three major credit bureaus and inform them of the loss. Those bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Any one of those you can issue a fraud alert for you, and that will notify the other two bureaus immediately. A fraud alert will essentially place a "hold" or "freeze" on your credit report so that no one else can take action using your credit, such as taking out a car loan, applying for mortgage, applying for a credit card, etc. This action will freeze your credit account until the fraud alert has cleared.

You should also contact both your local police and the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC does not investigate claims directly, but they share information with law enforcement agencies all over the world in order to compile statistics and hopefully break up large criminal organizations that are stealing identities for their own personal financial gain.

You should then cancel all of your existing credit cards and change all of your passwords at every website you use. Make sure to use a unique password at every single site because if the criminal gets a hold of one and use the same password everywhere, then they have access to every site you've ever visited.

Lastly, you need to review your financial statements and your credit report to look for any fraudulent charges or new accounts that may have been opened in your name. Keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious, as it can be very time-consuming and expensive to clean up if caught too late.

Preventing ID Theft In The First Place

A stolen identity can be quite painful to deal with. There are step you can take to prevent identity theft, although nothing is 100% effective. There also exist identity fraud protection services that will give you an early-warning system to help you prevent further financial damages. Either way, prevention is cheaper than picking up the pieces afterwards.


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