• By Thal Dixon
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What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen pt. 1

There are many ways that someone can damage your life by breaking into your home, however, one of the most harrowing ways that can be more emotionally harmful than the initial theft is if they use their break in to steal your personal information and, thusly, identity.

If you have a home break in, whether or not you know if they took any personal information, immediately change any account information that they might have gotten. However, if you don’t do this in time and your identity is stolen, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage. Here’s some steps to follow if your identity is stolen…

1. Cancel all accounts/cards

The first step is to make sure that they can’t do any more damage than they have already done. Before you can fix anything, you’ve got to make sure that the situation still isn’t happening. Contact the fraud department at your bank/credit card company. Put an immediate hold on all of your accounts/cards. Make absolute certain to let them know why you are freezing those accounts and try to get written confirmation from them that you’ve done so. Also make sure to change any login information for your online accounts.

2. Place a fraud alert

To place a fraud alert, contact one of the federal credit bureaus. Thankfully, you’ll only need to contact one at this time, because each of these bureaus will communicate your situation to the rest. Put a hold on any accounts being opened in your name, for the time being. Make sure that you get a written letter of confirmation from each bureau (there are three) saying that they put a fraud alert on your file. Putting out a fraud alert prevents the problem from spreading, and allows you to start picking up the pieces.

3. Order your credit report

Get your credit report as soon as you possibly can. There are several websites that you can use to get it immediately. Go over your credit report in great detail, and make a note of any purchases or activity that wasn’t made by you. Put each of these discrepancies in a list of all activity that you think pertains to the theft. This will come in handy when you have to challenge/back up any claims that you make.

4. Alert the FTC about your identity theft

Once you have done the first three steps, the next big move is to contact the Federal Trade Commission. Give them as many details as you can about what has happened. Keep a copy of the report that you send in, as well as the affidavit or any other document that you receive from them. This will put your case in multiple parts of the system. Reporting to the FTC not only helps you reverse any damage that has been done, but is necessary to pursue justice, as well.

These steps will be continued in a part 2.