Stolen identity: eek!
In case you didn't know, identity theft can happen in a lot of ways. It is a serious crime where your personal information suffers the most. From your name to your driver's license or even Social Security Number, identity theft happens when someone hijacks or steals your information and intends to commit fraud in your name.
And when the situation gets more complex, identity theft can easily be linked to your credit score as well. Basically, anyone with your Social Security Number can obtain a false line of credit and pile up multiple debts in your name.
The bottom line is that identity theft is a serious crime and as such, needs proper sanctions. Still, everyone needs to be aware and prevent their identity from getting stolen, leaving them with a false criminal record.
My identity was stolen, now what?
Here's some options for you:
Contact the credit reporting agencies and file an Identity Theft claim. They will lock down your credit report so that the fraudster can no longer easily use your identity to apply for things. (Note: This also makes it difficult for YOU to apply with your own information, so make sure you do this only if you're sure you're a victim of identity theft.)
File a police report. You'll need this report when addressing the issues on your credit.
Next, get a copy of your credit and review the items on there. Look for anything that doesn't appear to be created by you. Careful, often there are company names that you have a relationship or purchase with that go by different names. Call the company and confirm. Each company will have their own process for steps on rectifying the situation. It will be a tedious process, but it happens every day to thousands of people--you'll get through this!
The Best Thing To Do To Prevent Identity Theft
Did you know that more than 3 million people had their identities stolen last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service?
These numbers are definitely shocking. No matter whether you are already one of them or not, you should prevent identity theft and especially prevent it from linking to your credit score. The best way to do that is to always change your passwords and make it a monthly routine. On top of that, make sure to keep your credit card information only visible to you and keep the plastic with your belongings.
The most popular form of identity theft involves new lines of credit being opened in your name and without your knowledge. The best way to protect yourself from something like this is to block every access to your credit data. Even if something like this happens in the future (after you block the access), there will be a denial of credit for every thief trying to impersonate you and derive anything of value in your name.
All of these ways to avoid identity theft are proven and will definitely help you live a safer life and have a credit score that is clean and not affected by anyone out there. In reality, people who have not yet become victims to identity theft can be considered as lucky, especially if they are not following these rules.
There are many other alternatives to stop certain forms of identity theft. The major credit reporting agencies offer special security overlays to your credit information, and do everything to stop certain forms of identity theft and the subsequent fraudulent obtaining of credit with your name or other personal information. In combination with them, people can use credit monitoring services and help themselves in certain instances against the results of identity theft.
Got Your Identity Compromised - And Fearing A Possible Credit Access?
If you already have your identity stolen and are fearing your credit score because of it, what you can do is collect your thoughts, track all of your communications and ultimately contact law enforcement, financial institutions and other agencies.
However, the best thing to do is probably to place a fraud alert and protect yourself from fraud or identity. Also, you can consider placing a security freeze service on your credit report, which will prevent lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely and eventually extending your credit.
Signing up for ongoing credit monitoring as well as features that allow you to lock your credit report over the long run are another option you can consider. Along with proper tracking of any suspicious activity showing up on your report, it can be the one-and-only solution to identity theft prevention.
In the end, the greatest thing is that most of these identity theft prevention services can nowadays be filled in online and in only a few seconds.