11 Steps To Take If You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity Theft

11 Steps To Take If You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft

 Marcie Nach, CFP®, Financial Planner

Identity theft is a serious issue – it can range from a compromised credit card, to tax-related identity theft, to medical insurance theft. Over 13 million people in the U.S. were affected by some form of identity theft in 2015 alone. If you have become a victim of identity theft, there are several steps that should be taken immediately. This is a general list – depending on the type of theft you have experienced, there may be additional important steps.

1.  Request a Fraud Alert

Call all three credit bureaus and request a “fraud alert” be placed on your accounts. This is in place for 90 days. To extend the period to seven years, ask to add an “extended fraud victim alert.”

a.  Experian: experian.com or call 888.397.3742
b.  Transunion: transunion.com or call 800.680.7289
c.  Equifax: equifax.com or call 866.640.2273

2.  Freeze Your Credit File

Depending on your state (this is valid in Illinois), you can “freeze” your credit file. To do this, contact the three credit bureaus. In Illinois, the cost is $10/person/credit bureau but is free if you are over 65 years old.

a.  Experian: experian.com/freeze or call 888.397.3742
b.  Transunion: freeze.transunion.com or call 888.909.8872
c.  Equifax: freeze.equifax.com or call 800.349.9960

3.  Complete IRS Form 14039

IRS Form 14039 is a notice to the IRS to monitor for suspicious activity.

4.  File a Police Report

File a police report with your local Police Department and ask for a copy.

5.  Report the Identity Theft to the Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General of Illinois can be reached at 800.964.3013. For any other state, you can find the office’s contact information by simply searching in Google: Office of Attorney General [your state].

6. Report the Identity Theft to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The US FTC can be reached at 877.ID.THEFT or www.identitytheft.gov or www.consumer.gov/idtheft

7.  Contact the Companies that had False Applications Filed

Ask to speak to someone in their security or fraud departments, and notify them that this was a case of identity theft. Be sure to also follow-up with a notice in writing and keep a copy.

8.  Change your Passwords to Major Financial Institutions

In addition to changing your passwords, alert the intuitions to your identity theft. Read more about creating strong passwords in Online Security Tips.

9.  Run Your Credit Report Regularly

Under the FACT Act amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies in a 12-month period. We suggest ordering a report from one credit agency, and then three months later, order from another credit agency, etc. You can also run your credit report annually for free at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877.322.8228. By following this process, you are able to get free updates every few months.

10.  Secure Your Email Account

If you suspect that your email account has been hacked, take steps to secure your account. Each email provider has their own instructions. Please reference Secure a Hacked Email Account.

11.  Consider Text Message Verification for Your Online Accounts

“Two-step verification” is a highly recommended additional level of security. Each time you log in you will receive a unique code through a text message to your phone that is used in combination with your password to access your account online. This is available with many email providers such as Google, as well as many financial institutions, including Fidelity.

For more information on how to proactively protect yourself against identity theft, please read our other resources:

Source: 2016 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin


This article contains general information that is not suitable for everyone. The information contained herein should not be constructed as personalized investment advice. Reading or utilizing this information does not create an advisory relationship. An advisory relationship can be established only after the following two events have been completed (1) our thorough review with you of all the relevant facts pertaining to a potential engagement; and (2) the execution of a Client Advisory Agreement. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed in this article will come to pass.

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