Would you know what to do if you suspect that your personal information had been stolen and used by thieves to open new accounts? It’s important that you take the right actions to clear your name as quickly as possible.
In 2005, the laws were changed to allow anyone to review their credit report yearly without having to pay a fee. You can also get a free credit report if you were denied credit during the previous 60 days. By reviewing your credit report periodically, you have a better chance of stopping any unauthorized activity more quickly. There are services that, for a small fee, will monitor your information each business day to ensure that no one else has access to your accounts.
If the worst should happen and your identity is stolen, do you know what to do first and where to report the crime? Are you aware of what forms need to be filled out, or where to send them? Often, the police won't take an active role or even open an investigation. There will be considerable paperwork to complete and send to all of the responsible companies and agencies.
The process of clearing your name can seem overwhelming at times. Having guidelines to walk you through the stages can make the difference between effectively submitting your documentation, and battling through months of bureaucratic red tape.
Although the Federal Trade Commission is the lead agency for identity theft issues, there are a number of other federal and state agencies that have jurisdiction, depending upon the type of crime committed. You may need to contact a host of agencies, companies, credit bureaus, and investigators. It frequently takes many months or even years to correct the errors.
You'll also need to keep very accurate files of all contacts, including conversations and written correspondence. It may be easiest to make a chart and include date, agency or company, contact person, and a summary of the information discussed. Keep copies of all original documents, and only send out copies. Send them certified mail, return receipt requested. That way, you have documentation of when your letters were received.
With patience, determination, and a “game plan” describing what to do, you can get through this very difficult experience and begin to put your life back together.
This article was posted on Aug 15, 2005