5 VITAL STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT
With tax season among us, consumer fraud alerts are being issued by various regulatory agencies to warn consumers. However, most people believe they will never be a victim of identity theft.
Unfortunately, identity theft can happen to anyone. A family member called me this morning to inform me that she received a letter from the IRS. The letter advised, her social security number had been used to file a fraudulent tax return.
My family member, like most thought this could not happen to her, since she does not make a lot of money and her credit is not the best. However, this type of thinking is the exact reason, consumers are targeted. Identity theft is not always about finances, the fraudster may be after your age for social security benefits or other benefits from the government.
In the event you find yourself in this horrifying position, the first thing to do is keep calm. Then follow these simple steps. A victim of identity theft must be proactive to avoid issues in the future.
1. File a Police Report- Go to your local police department to file a police report for identity theft. Make sure to take the police report number down, as well as a good contact person and phone number, in the event any regulatory agencies needs to contact your local police department.
2. Contact the IRS or go to their website to File an Identity Theft Affidavit. Make sure to include a copy of your Drivers License and Social Security Card. You may also Download Publication 4535, which will provide additional resources for identity theft victims.
3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission or visit them online at FTC.Gov and file an Identity theft Report. Make sure to include the police report number, if you filed a police report.
4. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to file a report if wages or benefits may be in dispute. It is a good idea to report your case to the SSA to ensure no one has misused your information to misreport wages or inappropriately receive benefits.
5. Contact one of the three credit bureaus to file a credit freeze that lasts 90 days. It is not necessary to contact all three bureaus, since the bureau will notify the other bureaus of the credit freeze. It is also a good idea to request a credit report to determine if any inaccuracies exist. The credit freeze may be initiated online through any one of these three bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion.