If your private financial information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be devastating. There are many ways you can help protect yourself on a daily basis, from taking precautions online to checking your credit report periodically. Sometimes, however, the precautions aren’t enough and you may find yourself a victim of identity theft. If so, it’s important that you act quickly. Contacting the correct agencies and filing the necessary reports will go a long way toward minimizing any damage to your financial well-being.
Even if you didn’t order the goods or open the bank or card account, the bad debts will end up under your name and address, so act quickly.
Contact your bank and/or card issuer.
If you’re the victim of identity fraud involving your own credit or debit cards, online banking or checks, report it to your bank and/or card issuer as quickly as possible. These organizations have dedicated fraud departments and are responsible for investigating the issue.
Contact lenders if you’ve received bills, statements or demand notices.
If you’ve received suspicious bills or statements at your address, contact the specific companies directly to let them know you didn’t open the account.
Check your credit report.
Contact credit reference agencies to get a copy of your credit report, so you can see if there are any new searches or accounts you did not apply for. You can then ask for this to be removed from your report. Credit agencies also have dedicated fraud departments, who may be able to help you dispute fraudulent information with lenders, advise on additional security options and check for future fraudulent applications in your name.
Report the fraud to law enforcement.
If you’re the victim of another type of identity fraud, report this to the relevant organization and to the police, as appropriate.