Few things are more anxiety-provoking than to find out that someone stole your identity and destroyed your credit. According to LifeLock, one-fourth of all American adults have experienced at least one incident of identity theft. Knowing what to do and acting quickly can make the difference between getting your credit restored relatively quickly and suffering from credit problems for many years.
A Georgia bankruptcy attorney can explain what to do if identity theft has ruined your credit and guide you through the process of dealing with the consequences. It is possible to rebuild your credit score if you know the correct steps to take.
Five Things To Do After Identity Theft
The worst thing that you can do when you suspect identity theft is nothing. Some people panic and feel helpless in this situation, so they do not take immediate action. Here are suggestions about five steps to take if you think that you are the victim of identity theft:
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
With every passing hour, an identity thief can open a new fraudulent credit card in your name, buy a card, go shopping on your tab, and access cash advances. If anything looks unusual about your finances, hold on to all the letters, notices, and other papers. You will need as much evidence as possible to prove your case to law enforcement and the credit bureaus.
Do not wait for the sky to fall. Be proactive. When something you do not recognize shows up on your bank statement, reach out immediately to find out what happened. As soon as you verify that the transactions are fraudulent, you need to protect yourself by exercising due diligence.
CONTACT THE APPROPRIATE COMPANIES AND AGENCIES
Notify your credit card issuer or bank of the unusual activity and make a fraud report. Contact one of the “big three” credit reporting bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax and have them put a fraud alert on your credit report.
Make a police report at your local police station. You will need a copy of this police report for the next step, which is reporting the identity theft to the federal government. Sometimes, local police have inadequate training on identity theft and balk at the idea of making a police report for it. If that happens, talk to a supervisor. Do not leave without a copy of the police report.
Go to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Identity Theft reporting and information website and file an Identity Theft Report. The FTC website takes you by the hand and guides you through the process of generating the report.
Print a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report. Make detailed notes about your notifications to the credit card company or bank and the credit reporting bureau.
GET A COPY OF YOUR CREDIT REPORT
You need to review your credit report from all three of the credit reporting bureaus. Each one will have different information. Take the time to analyze all three reports and write down all the incorrect information and fraudulent accounts.
SHUT DOWN THE FRAUD
Using the information from the credit reports, close all the fraudulent credit card accounts and loans you did not open. If someone got access to one of your legitimate accounts and made unauthorized transactions, report these incidents to the credit card issuer. Ask the card issuer to lock down the account and issue you a new card with a new account number. If you act quickly enough, you might not be liable for the fraudulent charges.
GET A PROFESSIONAL ON THE JOB
Depending on the extent of harm to your credit, you might want to work with a lawyer to undo as much of the financial harm as possible. A Georgia bankruptcy attorney can help you rebuild your credit after identity theft. Contact our office today.