You are a victim of identity theft, now what? Depending on how your identity was stolen there are a few steps you can take to prevent this from happening again. By following these few identity theft solutions you will be less likely to become a victim again.
Social Security Number Theft
Jane had her wallet stolen. In her wallet were her social security card, drivers license and several credit cards. While she was able to cancel her credit cards, the thief had her social security number and her name and address. With her stolen social security number, name and address, it was quite easy to apply for credit under her name. If at all possible try not to carry your social security card around with you. Instead, keep it at home where you keep all your important papers. Had Jane left her social security card at home, the thief would have had a much more difficult time applying for credit and loans in her name. It is also important not to have your social security number appear on other documents such as checks or your license.
Your Credit Report
Another of the many identity theft solutions is to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. According to the FBI, billions of dollars are lost by credit card companies to fraud every year. Consumers pay for this fraud in higher interest rates and fees. As soon as Jane realized she had her wallet stolen, one of her first calls was to Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus. While it did take some time to get an actual person on the phone, Jane persevered. The Equifax representative was quite helpful and placed a fraud alert on her credit report. This fraud alert was shared with the other two credit agencies, Experian and Trans Union.
The fraud alert is actually seen by companies when someone applies for credit in your name. The fraud alert usually states you have been a victim of fraud. You usually provide a phone number where you can be contacted to confirm if you have applied for credit with that particular company. Most companies, until they have contacted you and confirmed you are truly requesting credit, will refuse to continue on with the application. Your other option is to freeze your credit report. In this situation you are provided with a password to unfreeze your credit report when you are applying for credit. Both methods are quite effective for identity theft solutions.
Your Credit Cards
While Jane was able to cancel her credit cards before anyone tried to charge anything on them, she then had to wait until new cards were issued. She was planning on purchasing a plane ticket that week to go visit her sister across the country. Because she had to wait for a new credit card to be issued she was unable to get the discounted price that had been offered that week. Her wallet was stolen out of her car while she was working out at the gym. Had Jane been smart, she would have left her credit cards at home. Before you leave the house, ask yourself if you need to take all your credit cards with you. Leave as many of them at home as possible. It is also a good idea to always leave one credit card at home. If your wallet is stolen you will have a credit card you know you can use if the need arises.
One of the key identity theft solutions is vigilance. Pay attention, stay alert and watch what is happening around you. Keep an eye on your credit report. You are entitled to a free report once a year. Examine your credit card and bank statements carefully every month and immediately report any unfamiliar charges. According to the FTC, approximately 9 million people have their identity stolen yearly.
By staying on your toes and acting smart you can prevent identity theft from happening to you again. Follow these few identity theft solutions and you will be less likely to be a victim of identity theft.