Imagine you’re at a retail store and decide to open a credit card with them to save some money. You’re denied, but you can’t imagine why. You have a great score, and you pay the full balance on your bills every month.
Then you remember. For the past few weeks, you’ve been receiving dozens of calls from collection agencies asking for money but brushed them off as scams. Then the unfortunate reality hits: someone stole your identity. Identity theft is more common than you might think. In 2019, almost 15 million people were affected by it.
If you become a victim of identity theft, you must take immediate action. You can’t know the full extent of the theft, so one of the first steps you should take is contacting an attorney. Here are some more steps you need to take after discovering ID theft.
Contact the Companies You Know the Fraud Happened With
You probably won’t know the fraud’s full scope, but you might know where some of it occurred. This could have been at a bank or retail store. Call the fraud department at these locations and inform them of the situation. If it’s a new account, ask them to close it, or if it’s an account you opened, ask for it to be frozen. This will ensure the thief cannot use it anymore.
You may also want to consider calling the other companies where you have open accounts. It doesn’t hurt to have them check for fraud. Depending on the severity of the theft, you may even want to freeze all your accounts until you resolve the matter.
Place a Fraud Alert
After you contact the companies where you know fraudulently activity occurred, you next have to file a fraud alert with one of the three national credit reporting agencies (CRA). You can call Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Don’t worry about calling all three. Once you file a fraud alert, the CRA will inform the other two. This alert reduces the risk of another account being opened in your name. In addition, you’ll also have the right to a free credit report from each CRA.
Order a Credit Report
Even though we highly recommend filing a fraud alert, you don’t have to. Still, you should request a copy of your credit report. Use the Annual Credit Report Service to obtain a copy from each CRA. By law, you’re allowed to receive one free credit report from each agency once every 12 months.
Report the Identity Theft
There are a few agencies with which you can file an identity theft report. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will create a statement that you can use to prove identity theft to businesses and other financial institutions. You can fill out a report online or call (877) 438-4338. They’ll also be able to help you with a recovery plan.
The FTC may also want you to file a report with local law enforcement. When you go to the police station, bring a copy of your FTC report, photo ID, and any other proof that someone stole your identity, such as collection notices. Make sure to ask for a copy of the police report as well.
Additionally, you may want to contact the IRS to ensure that you’re not a victim of tax identity theft. If it’s around tax season, someone with your information can file a tax return in your name in hopes of obtaining a refund.
Contact the Attorneys at McCarthy Law
If you’re a victim of identity theft, reach out to the expert attorneys at McCarthy Law. You may be facing severe debt as a result of the crime, and we can help. Our team will also help with a recovery plan following identity theft. We’re committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for all of our clients.
Call (855) 976-5777 or complete an online contact form to learn more about our services and how we can help you.
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