After someone steals your identity, there is no telling what can happen to your credit, name, and information. It’s a nightmare and one that is hard to fix if you are unsure of what to do. The good thing is that it’s not impossible to fix, and it can be done once you know the steps to take toward gaining your identity back.
Even though there are thousands of articles, websites, commercials, and businesses out there that provide free information on identity theft, millions of people still believe it won’t happen to them. When it does, they are beside themselves because they didn’t prepare for this and they have no idea what to do. Here are several things that you need to know about your credit after your identity has been stolen:
- It can be fixed — Even if it feels hopeless after you realize the damage done, keep in mind that it can be fixed. It will take some work on your part and a relentless drive to see your credit restored to what you built it up to be, but it’s not impossible. Don’t get discouraged thinking it won’t ever be the same, just take a deep breath and start the steps to fix it.
- Start with the easy things — Update your information back to the correct address, phone number, and so on after your identity has been stolen. This means that you need to make a lot of phone calls and sit on the phone for a while, making sure that you talk to an actual person for the company that you are calling. Explain the situation to them and provide any information that they ask for to confirm that you really are you.
- Add extra security measures — While you’re making the changes back to the right information, see if the company offers in extra security measures. This can include pin numbers, passwords, and security questions. Make sure that you do not use dates like your birthday, anniversary, children’s birthdays, or anything else that is easy to gain for identity thieves.
- Set up new email accounts — Yes, this is a pain in the neck, but if your identity has been stolen, chances are that they have your email address too. You can start putting a stop to them gaining anything else from you through your email by making a completely new email address for personal business.
- Change your email address where needed — If you need to update your credit cards, your bank, your utilities, or any other statements that come to your email account, do so immediately after you create a new account. DO NOT simply click on links from your old email as hackers can easily monitor anything you click on through a hacked email account.
- Start by gaining copies of your statements from credit cards, loans, and any other area that the identity thieves have ran up bills or used your credit for. Have them mailed to your address, emailed to your new email address, or pick them up if you can so that you know they are coming to you and not to whoever has your information.
- Go through everything twice — Block out some time to sit down and go through your statements completely once you have them. You need to have space to spread them all out, have a red pen (or other bright color) to mark any suspicious charges, and have a few sheets of paper for notes. Start by marking odd charges and making notes of which company to call about what charges. After you go through them all, I suggest that you walk away from them for an hour or more and then come back and go through them once more. You will always find something you missed the first time on the second pass.
- First round of inquiries — Armed with your list, start by calling or contacting the companies that have odd charges. Inquire what the charge is for, when it was made, and if they have any other information for you pertaining to that charge. Make very detailed notes about each charge, and write down the person’s name that you spoke to. Ask what to do to dispute these charges and make notes of any addresses, departments, or other information that you need for these disputes.
- Police are your friends — If you haven’t filed a police report about the identity theft, do so now. Most companies will require a police report number or other information about the report to file disputes or remove them from your accounts. This is a vital part of your disputing charges and getting them removed from your accounts.
- Follow up constantly until it’s over — Not every company is going to get right on fixing your problem as soon as you call. It’s not that they are just lazy or mean, they just normally have thousands of customers that they are handling and certain requests go through several people or departments before they find where they need to be. You need to follow up on each dispute personally, try to do this by phone whenever possible, although some companies will require written letters for inquires. Do not stop following up on these until some action is taken to remove them.
Yes fixing your identity is really a pain once you’ve had it stolen, but it can be done with some elbow grease. I also recommend that you check out some of the differentcompanies out there to see which one might offer the protection that you need to keep your identity safe from any other attacks, such as Lifelock identity theft protection.
After several years in the financial services sector, Chris Holdheide has helped many people rebuild their credit after financial disasters. From losing incomes to identity theft, he helps people regain their footing when they need it most. For clients that have been victims of identity theft, he recommends id theft monitoring companies to help them keep control of their information. If you would like to learn more about these companies, visit www.StumbleForward.com.