Perhaps you went to get the mail just like any other day and among your mail is a notice saying you are overdue on your Disney credit card. The only problem is that you don’t have a Disney credit card, but the name on the letter is obviously yours, the address is yours, but the charges, and they are numerous and expensive, are definitely not yours.
Maybe you applied for a mortgage for that dream home you’ve always wanted. The price was right, the rates looked good, the house is perfect. Then the loan officer tells you that you are declined. Your credit report is riddled with collections and no pays.
No matter how you find out, identity theft is tragic and destructive. It can easily destroy your credit and may even land you in jail. So now that you know about it there are some immediate steps that you need to take to address the theft
Immediately contact the big three credit bureaus. Request a free copy of your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy once a year from each at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review the reports to see just how extensive the theft is. Brace yourself, this may have been happening for years. If not, then you are truly one of the lucky ones.
Contact the bureaus and dispute the items that are not yours. Further, place an alert on your report.
After contacting the credit bureaus themselves it is time to contact the individual companies that have items on your report. Each company that appears on your credit report that is not a legitimate entry of your own needs to be contacted.
Inform them of the crime and dispute the transactions. They will have paperwork for you to fill out. Especially if there are many companies to contact this step may take a long, long time. Complete the paperwork as quickly and thoroughly as possible and get it back to the company.
United States law protects you in some cases in this, but your time is limited and short. If you are only catching this after many years you may not have much recourse.
After completing all of this, and immediately, for time is a major factor, take the appropriate steps to prevent it from happening again and to prevent the situation from escalating even worse.
Sign up for a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on your credit. This will alert you whenever anything happens on your credit, allowing you to know if the thief is trying to use your identity again. You may even be able to catch the thief in the act, if not at least you can limit the damage that the thief does to your identity.
Identity theft is scary and damaging, if it happens to you your best bet is speedy action.