Did you know that in the year 2017, more than 16 million people were victims of identity theft? And, unfortunately, this number isn’t going down.
‘White collar’ criminals who prey on hapless consumers are constantly evolving their tactics and strategies aimed at stealing identifying personal information so that it can be used to take out loans, obtain illegal documents, and perform scams throughout the world.
An Ounce of Prevention, A Pound of Cure
Because of how advanced their methods are, fighting these cybercriminals isn’t always easy. It takes an understanding of how these thieves operate in order to stay ahead of them in the effort of protecting your own welfare and future financial prosperity. What might be even more important is knowing what to do about identity theft after it’s happened.
Who do you call?
What do you say?
Are there forms to fill out?
How long will this take?
Do you need to hire an attorney?
In this article, the legal team at Matthew R. Osborne, PC is offering some tips to help if you find yourself a victim of identity theft in our modern age. Follow these steps in the wake of an identity breach, and you’ll be doing all you can to ensure that you remedy the situation while suffering as little financial consequence as possible.
Do These 5 Things First
- Get in touch with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a report. Doing this will accomplish a few things: one, it will give prosecuting agencies like local law enforcement the data they need to go after cybercriminals who have stolen your identity. Two, the FTC will send you a ‘recovery plan’ that can be executed over the course of the next few days and weeks as you work to dispute charges and piece your personal security back together.
- Contact the ‘Big 3’ credit reporting agencies directly, and notify them of your potentially compromised credit. These three agencies are Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. After they receive your fraud alert, they’ll issue a notification to all those requesting credit information about you. These notifications will indicate that your credit might be compromised, which could act as a deterrent for future false loans.
[Note: In many cases, the credit reporting bureaus may be very slow to act, or they may not acknowledge your request at all due to bureaucratic red tape. This is where it might make sense to hire an attorney to represent you in your interactions with these agencies.]
- Consider freezing your credit. If you know for a fact that your credit might be used by someone else to obtain a loan or in some other way illegally leverage your financial good name, it might be best to freeze your credit until this all blows over. Freezing your credit doesn’t negatively impact your credit rating, and the freeze can be lifted when you feel comfortable that the ordeal is behind you.
- Enroll in credit monitoring provided by a reputable company. Companies like Mint.com and perhaps even your consumer bank may offer a credit monitoring service that will alert you if and when fraudulent activity occurs. Many of these services require a reasonable monthly or yearly fee, but the peace of mind you’ll get in exchange may well be worth it.
- Change your passwords for sensitive online accounts, and increase the security measures for their access. It can be convenient to use the same password and login information for multiple financial websites, but doing so could pose a serious risk to your financial security. Change your passwords immediately after a confirmed identity breach, and opt for tighter security measures wherever they’re available (things like verification questions, mobile authentication, etc.).
Lastly, if fraudulent charges have already started cropping up on your credit card statements, and if these charges are especially large, it could take a long time and many phone calls or emails before the credit card companies reverse the charges. For this reason, Matthew R. Osborne, PC offers expert legal representation in your fight to restore your credit to where it was before this all happened.
We take on the burden of dealing directly with the credit card companies, and we always work with the best interest of consumers in mind.
If you’re ready to take action to correct the wrongs that have now been associated with your name, likeness, or social security number, contact us today. Our first consultation is always free, and we’ll make sure all of your questions are answered.