Identity Theft Recovery Plan
Are you prepared to act quickly if you’re a victim of identity theft? These tips can help you report identity theft, place a fraud alert, freeze your credit, dispute fraudulent activity and more.
The moment you realize your identity has been stolen can be overwhelming, frustrating and unnerving. You may be worried about the long-term impacts of identity theft on your credit score and financial accounts. There’s also an immediate need to recover your accounts and have access to credit for everyday needs.
You’ve heard nightmare stories of financial problems that can drag on after identity theft, especially for victims who didn’t realize anything was wrong until they were denied credit. That’s why actively monitoring your financial accounts and credit reports can help you identify and report problems sooner. Having an identity theft recovery plan can help you bounce back from identity theft.
Reporting Identity Theft
To report an identity theft, you’ll need to visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website IdentityTheft.gov and answer a few questions about what happened. This will generate an official statement that you can use in place of a police report in most cases.
However, you should also file a police report if you have information on who the identity thief is, if the thief used your name in an encounter with the police or if a debt collector insists on seeing a police report.
Recovering from Identity Theft
- Report missing documents. Whether it’s your driver’s license, passport, Social Security card or bank card, you should contact the original issuer, report the loss and request a replacement.
- Place a fraud alert. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian® or TransUnion®) and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your account. Ask one bureau to alert the other two bureaus about this. Fraud alerts require businesses to verify your identity before accepting any credit requests in your name. They’re free and remain in place for 90 days. If you’ve already filed an Identity Theft Report, you may qualify for an extended fraud alert that lasts seven years. An extended alert also allows you to receive two free credit reports per year from each credit agency.
- Consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze is a step beyond a fraud alert. By freezing your credit, nobody can access your credit report until you request the freeze is lifted. Credit freezes make sense if you don’t plan on opening new accounts anytime soon. Federal law now requires credit freezes be free, so take advantage of this benefit if you think they’re right for you. Contact the credit bureaus to get started.
- Dispute any fraudulent activity. If you lost money or face charges for activity that wasn’t yours, you will need to dispute the activity with your financial institution. This is also a good time to reset passwords and PINs to help prevent repeat fraud.
- View and correct your credit report. Request a credit report and verify that it’s free of fraudulent information. If there are any signs of fraud on your credit report, contact the three major credit bureaus to have this information removed.
Monitor Your Financial Accounts
At Amegy Bank, we work together with you to protect your financial accounts from fraud. Enrolling in account alerts can help you stay informed about account activity and potential fraud. Visit our Security Center for more fraud prevention tools and ways to enhance your online security.