With so many people sharing their personal information online and internet security being a major issue these days, identity theft can often strike quite unexpectedly, causing extensive damage to your reputation, credit and finances that can only be resolved with considerable time and effort.
The first few steps you take after finding out that you were the victim of identity theft can be some of the most crucial for avoiding long term credit damage and, eventually, eliminating the problem entirely.
The Importance of Placing an Initial Fraud Alert
There are three nationwide credit report companies that keep track of people’s credit history. The first and most important step you need to take is to file an initial fraud alert with all these companies as soon as you’ve learned that your personal and financial information has been misused. A fraud alert is free and lasts for a total of 90 days, after which it can be renewed.
Additionally, it is also important to place credit freezes on all your accounts in order to prevent the identity thief from continuing to cause harm.
Tasks Required for Monitoring Your Progress
It takes a lot of patience to resolve an identity theft case, and in most cases, you can only rely on letters, calls and a thorough organization process. Aside from a fraud alert, there are several other measures you can take to ensure that all your papers are organized and that you can track all deadlines as accurately as possible:
- The first thing you should do right after placing a fraud alert is to order credit reports from all credit reporting companies. If you know which of your accounts have been compromised, contact the services in question as soon as possible to learn about your options.
- Create an identity theft report to help you recover from the theft and deal with debt collectors and businesses that may take action against you because of the damage caused by the identity theft.
- Create an extensive log and track all your calls, while keeping the original versions of all your documents and reports on file.
- Make a timeline of all important dates, including when you have to file requests, receive a response from credit reporting companies and send important follow-ups.
While it may take time before you do resolve your problem, the tasks presented here are extremely important for minimizing any initial damage.
Also, reading up on the latest information about different types of identity theft and how to efficiently protect yourself may also be necessary for preventing identity thieves from launching further attacks in the future.
Online identity theft can be a complete disaster, especially for business owners who rely heavily on online revenue and sales. Fortunately, by taking a few simple preventive measures, you can make sure identity thieves will be unable to gain access to sensitive data and compromise your affairs.
Avoid Phishing Scams
Phishing emails and websites are some of the most common methods used by identity thieves. They usually seem harmless and legitimate, requesting that you verify your username or password from a certain website; however, they may request other personal information.
Be extremely careful when you receive an email or you visit a website that requests the following data:
- Bank account and credit card numbers;
- Your social security number;
- Health insurance ID;
- Home address or driver’s license number.
Social Media Privacy
As social media is booming these days, many people tend to share a lot of information about themselves without thinking of the potentially harmful consequences that could be involved with this action.
To prevent identity thieves from gathering information about yourself, your transactions or your business via social media, avoid sharing extensive personal information and make sure you have your privacy settings in place to prevent anyone except friends or family from viewing your posts.
Protect Yourself with Antivirus/Anti-Malware Software
Spyware, keyloggers and malware are commonplace these days, and if you connect to the internet through an unsecure computer, you may be vulnerable to extensive identity theft.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, consider getting a high quality antivirus program and installing an anti-malware scanner to clean out Trojans, spyware and any other harmful files that could be sending out vital information to identity thieves.
Use Unique Passwords on All Accounts
Even if you choose a secure password that is difficult to hack, identity thieves often have other means of obtaining it by bypassing the security on some of the websites you register on.
Not all websites use secure MD5 or other encryption algorithms, and if you use the same password on all your accounts, you may be in deep trouble if one of them is compromised.
To prevent this, consider choosing complex and diverse passwords with both numeric and lower/upper case letter variations.
Shop Only on Trusted Websites
Finally, while online shopping may be convenient, you should always check to see how trusted the service you’re using is before entering credit card numbers or other information.
Additionally, to prevent websites and attackers from gaining access to your information, it may be best to use all the tips presented here whenever you shop or perform any online transactions.
As the problem of identity theft becomes more and more prevalent, the importance of acting as quickly as possible upon discovering that an identity thief tampered with one or more of your accounts is extremely important in order to avoid further damage.
While you might already have contacted the businesses that were impacted by the issue, your credit may already have been affected to a considerable extent.
Obtain Your Credit Report
One of the first steps required for attempting to repair your credit after an identity theft crisis is to obtain your credit report as soon as possible.
Aside from providing you with crucial information about fraudulent activities and compromised accounts, the report will also notify you of whether or not any legal action has already been taken against you as a result of the identity thief’s activities.
This will provide you with all the necessary data for taking steps to assess and correct any damage or errors. After having checked all the important information, including your name, address and social security number, look for any errors such as new accounts opened in your name that you don’t know about or any debts apart from the ones you already had.
Credit report companies and the fraud department of each company you’ve had dealings with should be able to provide you with the necessary support for resolving the issue.
Get Copies of Important Documents
Upon assessing the damage and getting as much information as you can about your credit, contact the businesses that have records of your thief’s transactions and ask them to send you the necessary documents. Your request should include:
- Asking for business transaction records and applications the identity thief used;
- Demanding you be sent any credit applications, account statements, invoices and anything else that could provide evidence on the identity thief’s activities;
- Delivering as much information as possible about the dates and places the fraudulent activities took place;
- Adding proof of your identity, as well as a copy of your identity theft report.
Businesses have the obligation of sending all these documents and information within 30 days of your request. If you are able to provide evidence that your accounts have been tampered with, and a police report can confirm these finds, you can provide a copy of the report to any of the three nationwide credit report companies to block the affected accounts.
All these steps are extremely crucial for minimizing any damage and preventing the thief from opening new accounts and making additional charges in your name.
Identity theft is becoming a common phenomenon in the Whole World and we can see this happen in almost all countries. It is stealing somebody’s identity in which the person pretends to be someone in order to get all credits on the person’s name. It happens when some person uses another person’s personal information and identity proof’s for its own identity.
Exploiting through Mails
Another common exploitation is done by searching through the mails. If the person is heaving your social security number and its detail and if you are having any mails regarding any credit card or maybe some banking mails in your mails. Shredding all information after reading it from your mail will not take much time.
Shopping online is safe for the most of the time, but still one has to care of following:
- Is there any valid (secure socket layer) SSL Certificate of website? When the browser is directed towards the secured page.
The easiest method to verify a secure page is to look at the browser address bar. When we enter a secure web page then the http:// part of the URL changes to https://. We should also look for a padlock icon on the bottom right corner. Sometimes we will observe an alert telling us that the SSL Certificate is expired or cannot be recognized. If not recognized then it may have not come from the agencies such as VeriSign or Thawte. Webmaster can generate his own certificate without using any of the certification agencies.
A warning can be displayed on the pages regarding both secure and non-secure data. This happens sometimes when secure data is being pulled into a “frame” with, the non-secure data.
- Always go to a creditable website, and follow your intuition to stop, if there seems to be any risks.
Usernames and Passwords.
It is always suggested not to store your usernames and passwords on your computer, especially bank details and credit card numbers. Driving license number, identity card numbers should also not be shared or saved on a computer.
The process of file sharing has been increased tremendously in recent years and has provided a golden opportunity for surfers to get sensitive data. It is very common mistakes by the web users specially the new ones who store their all Documents in sharing folders. There are many programs such as Kazaa, LimeWire and many more which can share all your documents on the network from your shared folders. They may contain spyware or viruses also.
There are many theft or fraud protection agencies which can be used to identify the frauds before it can damage your credits completely and rebuilt your details and credits if it has been explored.
SC America © 2013.