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Victim of ID Theft? Here’s What You Should Do Now

A collection agency called last month demanding payment on a major credit card you don’t possess. Definitely strange. However, you don’t panic and dismiss it as a wrong number. A few days later, you received a retail credit card statement in the mail reflecting a balance of $3,500 with the first payment due soon. The statement had your name misspelled, so you again think “mistakes happen” and you throw it away. But, yesterday when you received your credit card statement with charges for airline tickets, and you have no pending travel plans, you know something’s up.

Identity theft is the act of fraudulently using someone else's personal information such as social security numbers, bank account information, credit cards, etc. for monetary or personal gain. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more common with each passing year. A 2018 University of Phoenix Survey found that nearly half of U.S Adults experienced a personal data breach in the past three years. If you’ve recently discovered that your identity has been stolen, or suspect it has, here’s what you should do.

Gather Your Documents
You might feel shaken by what’s happened, but now is the time to gain control. Assemble the documentation you have to demonstrate someone used your personal information to commit fraud. Documentation might include e-mail, U.S. mail, credit card and bank statements, and your written recollection of events. Your written notes should include names, dates, and how the identity thief used your information, e.g., credit card accounts, loans, bank accounts, etc. How your information was misused will determine the next steps that need to be taken.

Speak Up
Immediately contact your creditors to inform them of the suspected breach of personal data. They will provide you with the next steps based on their company policy. Even without an extensive list of supporting documentation, financial institutions and creditors can guide you through steps to protect your open accounts.

After documenting your concerns with your creditors, file an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at the website. The information you pulled together in Step 1: Gather Your Documents will be requested here and will be used to create a personalized identity theft recovery plan for your specific situation.  As you navigate the reporting process, continue to keep a record of your conversations: date and time, whom you spoke with, and the outcome.

Turn on an Alert
Set a fraud alert with the major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This will alert potential creditors that your identity may have been used to perpetrate fraud and warn them to take extra precautions to verify your identity before granting new credit. You only need to submit your fraud alert request with one bureau. Your initial request will be shared with the other two bureaus. 

Keep Your Eyes Open
Still monitor your credit, even with a fraud alert. Identity theft is likely to leave a mark on your credit report that you’ll want removed. A regular review of your credit history report is the only way to confirm inaccurate information no longer appears on your record.

You can request a copy of your credit history reports from once every 12 months at no cost. Although fraud alerts are shared between major credit bureaus, other credit activity is not shared. It’s critical that you review each of your reports and not rely solely on one for your credit history review.

Victims of identity theft can regain control of their financial life by acting quickly. The longer you delay or ignore the signs of identity theft, the more time criminals have to wreak havoc with your credit and other aspects of your financial life. While it will take time to repair the damage, it can and you can recover.

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Prince George's Community Federal Credit Union does not provide, and is not responsible for, the product, service, or overall website content available at a 3rd party site. We do not endorse the information, content, presentation, or accuracy nor makes any warranty, express or implied, regarding any external site. Our privacy policies do not apply to linked websites.

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USA Patriot Act

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. What this means for you: when you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.

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