IDENTITY THEFT VICTIM? WHAT TO DO...
Updated: May 22, 2018
According to lifelock.com, approximately 15 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2017. If you have not been a victim of identity theft, you are the exception.
I was a victim of identity theft in 2004 and again in 2008. I filed police reports like I was supposed to, but I never received a phone call from the law enforcement agencies with which I filed. I didn’t like not knowing what was happening with my case or not knowing what to do to protect myself in the future.
When I finally had the opportunity to help other identity theft victims, that’s exactly what I did. I became the first fraud investigator at my police department. I not only worked the fraud cases, I spent extra time with the victims educating them on how to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Since leaving the police department to open my own private investigation firm, Hipps Investigative Services, LLC, I want to continue to help identity theft victims.
What is identity fraud?
Identity fraud or identity theft is when someone steals your personal identifying information with the intent of using that information for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining goods and/or services.
Your personal identifying information is defined by OCGA 16-9-120 as: current or former names, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, checking account numbers, savings account numbers, credit card and other financial transaction card numbers, debit card numbers, personal identification number (PIN), electronic identification numbers, digital or electronic signatures, medical identification numbers, mother’s maiden name, selected personal identification numbers, tax identification numbers, state identification card numbers issued by the state, any other numbers or information which can be used to access a person’s or entity’s resources.
What to do if you become a victim?
If any of your financial accounts have been compromised, immediately contact your bank or credit card company and file a report so they can close the account(s) to stop further damage.
Next, file a police report with your local agency. You can have an officer or deputy come to your house or you can go to the police department to make the report. If possible, obtain a copy of your bank statement showing the fraudulent charges and give it to the officer while filing the report. Also give the officer the account number that was compromised. An investigator can’t do anything without it.
To be on the safe side, change passwords and PIN numbers to your account (s).
Check your credit report for any accounts that you didn’t open. If you find a fraudulent account, contact the credit bureaus and file a report. The Federal Trade Commission recommends www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 as the website to check your credit.
Be sure to contact the three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, and place a fraud alert of freeze on your credit. A fraud alert means anytime a new account is opened using your social security number, you will be alerted to the new account. The only downfall is you may not get notified of the account until a week later.
A credit freeze will not allow any accounts to be opened under your social security number without your permission. You will set up a password that only you know. Before you open a credit card account or make a large purchase, you can call and have the freeze released temporarily by using your password.
Last, report your identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov.
If you would like more information on how to protect yourself from identity fraud, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can email you a free booklet.