My Identity Is Stolen, What’s Next? – A Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Deal With Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime that can cause a lot of damage in your life, especially if someone uses your identity for illegal activities. Often, people are not even aware that they have been victimized until they hear news from local authorities. Their personal details may have been used for any number of activities, such as fraud, scams, and even acts of terrorism.

You may be wondering what to do if you find yourself in such a traumatizing position. The FBI has made it clear that scammers and cyber criminals obtain your personal information through various means, so it is important to remain vigilant.

Hackers may gain access to your personal details, such as where you live, your number, name, hospital records, tax details, and banking information. Data breaches are more common than you think and can even occur accidentally.

If you find yourself a victim of malicious cybercrimes, you need to know the exact steps to follow to protect yourself. This will allow you to take appropriate measures and inform the authorities that you are compromised, protecting you from the blame.

Let’s explore a step-by-step guide to help you deal with identity theft.

A Step-by-Step Guide of Actions to Take When Recovering from Identity Fraud

Identity fraud is a prevalent crime that exists throughout the world. Scammers are constantly trying to bait and lure unsuspecting victims into their carefully orchestrated plans.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft.

You may be a victim of a phishing scam or accidentally give out your details to a fraudster over the phone. Either way, once you know you’re compromised, you need to follow the proper steps to protect yourself from future harm.

Let’s consider all the steps you need to take to deal with identity fraud.

1. Track the Crime

In the old days, before the Internet came into existence, identity fraud involved criminals digging into your trash to find relevant details. You may already know that you need to shred your personal information before dumping it to avoid criminals gaining access to it. Some of the things to look out for when throwing your trash away are your credit card bills and any kind of receipts with your details on them.

In the modern world, you may have been victimized through fake emails, phone scams, IoT device hacking, etc.

Some ways to find if your identity has been stolen is to check if any bank accounts have been opened in your name or transactions have occurred through your credit or debit cards. Sometimes your personal details can be changed in contracts with the government, so you should always investigate the issue.

Based on your latest online activities, you may be able to surmise that your identity has been stolen. It might suddenly click that you opened a dodgy email or responded to it. Or you may have downloaded a malicious plug, software, video, or attachment, which could have compromised you. If you visited a commercial website and it became a victim of a cyber-attack, your information may have landed in the hands of a cybercriminal.

Either way, once you realize you’ve been victimized, you need to move onto the next step.

2. Inform Creditors and Banks of your Situation

The first thing you need to do when you discover that you’ve been victimized is to get on the phone and inform the relevant authorities of the crime. If your credit card has been used to make transactions without your consent, you need to call your bank and tell them to freeze your accounts.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft.

Since identity fraud is such a prevalent crime that victimizes even the most vigilant people, banks have many protections in place to protect their account holders. Some acts protect people from these frauds, such as the Fair Credit Bill Act, which is worth looking into.

However, if someone tries to transfer all of your funds from your bank account to someone else’s or manages to do so, you need to look into the Electronic Fund Transfer Act to know your rights.

Your best move is to report your suspicions as soon as they are brought to your attention. This prevents fraudulent activities from occurring, and you can file an identity theft report with a police report to your creditors.

3. Add ‘Fraud’ to your Credit Report

Your credit score can drop significantly if you’ve been victimized by online fraud. Therefore, it is important to mitigate any future effects by informing any one of the major bureaus that monitor your credit scores. You can look them up in your region and contact them directly by calling them on their hotline.

Once you contact them, ask them to add a fraud alert to your account for a few months. They will also contact the other bureaus for you, and you won’t need to take any further action. When this alert is active, criminals cannot open accounts in your name, so you protect yourself by reaching out to the relevant authorities.

It is unfair that your credit score is negatively impacted by something outside your control, but you can focus on improving it in the future. Depending on how bad you think the cybercrime is, you can even extend your fraud alert up to seven years by looking into the specific practices that can make it happen.

4. Regularly Check your Credit Reports

After informing the relevant bureaus and putting out a fraud alert, you will receive a credit report. You can then check this report for any signs of fraudulent activities under your name.

If identity fraud has occurred, you will be able to find out quickly by checking every detail of your credit report. Some instances of suspicious activities may include new accounts opened in your name, transactions you didn’t consent to or approve of, employer names you are not familiar with, etc.

Depending on what you find, you can prioritize checking these reports once or twice a year for any ongoing activities outside your awareness.

5. Freeze your Credit

One of the most important things you need to do is freeze your credit as soon as you’ve received your report and confirmed the identity fraud. This prevents your report from reaching creditors and allows you to build your score before creditors can see it. You can ask the bureaus to do this for you, and they will freeze it straight away.

Combining a fraud alert with a credit freeze protects you from any further damage. You can freeze your credit for as long as you want, depending on your circumstances. If you do decide to lift it, it should be in response to the credit bureau’s feedback in response to your situation.

In order to unfreeze it, you will need to input a pin and password, which the credit bureau will provide. If you lose the pin or password, your process will get delayed, so it is in your best interests to keep it safe and away from prying eyes.

Reporting Identity Fraud – What it Involves

Those who become victimized by identity fraud must report the crime to protect themselves from further harm. Luckily, there are many authorities you can contact with your case, and they will provide the assistance necessary to mitigate your problem.

The FTC in America specializes in handling such cases, and you can visit their website and follow the instructions they have laid out. In other countries, you can contact the relevant authorities by searching for them online. Rest assured; there are agencies dedicated to handling cases of identity fraud in most countries of the world.

Let’s now look at how you can complete reporting identity fraud.

1. Reach Out to Local Police

It makes sense to contact the police as soon as you confirm that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud. You can call them and ask them which documents you would need to bring to file a police report.

In most cases, you need to be able to prove your identity and show evidence of identity crime. The police will listen to your claim and make a police report that you can show as proof of the crime.

2. Get All Labels of Fraud Removed from your Credit Report

The bureaus will provide you with a credit report after you request it. Once you’ve identified any and all instances of identity fraud, you can ask for them to be removed. The FTC provides guidelines for this process, and you can follow them by visiting their website.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft.

You will need to support a letter of request to the credit bureaus as well as other key information relating to your case. This includes an Identity Theft Report and all of the evidence relating to your case. You can then ask them to remove the fraudulent activities from your credit report by highlighting them, so it doesn’t affect your credit score.

This is to ensure that you are not liable to pay any debts that the criminals were responsible for. You should also check your credit report once or twice a year for any signs of new fraudulent activities under your name. If you find them, you will have to report them again.

3. Modify your Passwords

After identifying the accounts affected by the identity crime, you need to change all of your passwords. Create a strong and complex password so it is impossible for hackers to get into your account once again.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft.

You’d be surprised to know just how many people are hackable because they use simple passwords that are easy to guess. If someone has your personal details, they may be able to guess your password, especially if it relates to your birth date or something similar.

Many people also use the same password for everything. This should be avoided, and it is best to store your passwords in a safe place so you can access them to log into your accounts.

As a safety and security measure, you need to change your passwords once or twice a year. This prevents hackers from gaining access to your personal information.

4. Invest in VPN

Investing in VPN ensures that your online activities are not traceable. Many hackers can hack into people’s systems, especially if they connect to public Wi-Fi. Therefore, you should install a VPN on your laptop and phone to protect your personal information from falling into someone else’s hands.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft.

A VPN hides your IP address and online activities, allowing you to surf the web anonymously. It is an excellent investment to make in today’s age, where chances of cybercriminal activities are very high.

It also protects you against corporations stealing your data and selling it to third-party companies that can send targeted ads and create a model of your behaviors based on your online activities.

5. Install an Antivirus

Hackers use viruses, malware, and ransomware to hack into your systems. Once they gain access, they can steal your information without you even noticing and sell it on the dark web. When someone buys this information, they can use it for identity fraud and get you in trouble.

However, if you have an antivirus installed, you will be protected from viruses, even if you accidentally download them by opening a dodgy link. Macbooks are automatically protected from viruses, so it is unlikely for you to fall prey to them.

But do your due diligence and research how to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

Contact My Patriot Shield to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

My Patriot Shield specializes in protecting its customers from instances of identity theft. It helps you layer up your online security by providing secure backups, privacy-assured VPN services, proactive identity protection, and identity theft insurance.

Protect yourself from identity theft by contacting them through their website and filling out a contact form. You can also email them with any concerns or queries you might have when using any of their services.

The internet can be a scary and dangerous place. 

My Patriot Shield protects you and your personal information from cyber threats with multiple layers of protection.

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