Identity theft is a crime that can happen to anyone and involves your personal information being stolen through methods as simple as stealing your documents or as sophisticated as “phishing” or spyware.
If your identity has been stolen, it is critical that you act quickly to minimize any damage. If you aren’t sure, read these warning signs.
Consider Taking the Following Actions
- Call or email the fraud department of the companies, banks or credit unions where accounts have been compromised. Explain that someone stole your identity and ask them to close or freeze the compromised account.
- Contact any of the three credit reporting agencies and ask that a free fraud alert be placed on your credit report. Also ask for a free credit report. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the law requires the agency you call to contact the other two.
- Change the passwords, pin numbers, and log in information for all of your potentially affected accounts, including your email accounts, and any accounts that use the same password, pin, or log in information.
- Contact your police department, report the crime and obtain a police report.
- Go to the webpage of the Federal Trade Commission, report the ID theft and create an identity theft recovery plan: https://www.identitytheft.gov/Assistant
- Decide whether you want to place a security freeze on your credit report.
A security freeze is different from a fraud alert. Once your report is frozen, the credit reporting agency cannot release it without your prior express approval (with certain narrow exceptions). Under Texas law, a security freeze is free for victims of identity theft. However, to receive the freeze for free you will need to submit supporting information to the credit reporting agency according to their requirements. To obtain a freeze, you must contact each of the credit reporting agencies and comply with their requirements. Learn more at their websites below:
- Review your credit report to correct any errors and identify any new accounts that were opened in your name, and then contact the business and close those accounts and inform the credit bureau that you did not open those accounts.
- Review your other credit card and bank statements and take action to remove or dispute unauthorized charges or debits.
- Consider other steps you may need to take to address specific problems such as reporting a misused Social Security number or clearing your name of criminal charges.
- Consider obtaining a court order to assist you in clearing your name.
Texas law provides victims of identity theft the option of seeking a court order declaring that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are granted this type of court order, you may submit it to private businesses and to governmental entities to help correct any records that contain inaccurate or false information which resulted from the identity theft.
ALWAYS: REMAIN VIGILANT
Sadly, being a victim of identity theft once does not mean it cannot happen again. Take steps to prevent ID theft and remain alert!