If your identity has been stolen or comprised, it is important that you act fast to help reduce the amount of damage the identity thief can cause. Here are a few steps you should take if you believe your identity has been stolen.
1. Call one of the three credit reporting companies and request an initial fraud alert. This alert lasts for 90 days and should be requested if you think someone has stolen your identity. You only need to contact one of the three credit reporting companies – the one you contact will alert the other two. The fraud alert will stop anyone who tries to open a credit account using your information.
Fraud departments of the three credit reporting companies:
- Equifax 800-525-6285
- Experian 888-397-3742
- Transunion 800-680-7289
2. Request your credit report from all three credit reporting companies. If you are a victim of identity theft, you can get this report for free. Reviewing your credit reports will help you identify if an identity thief opened other accounts in your name.
3. If you know which of your accounts were affected by the identity theft, contact those accounts immediately. Speak with someone in the fraud department of the company. Follow up with a letter to the company.
4. Create an Identity Theft Report. This report helps prove you are a victim of crime and will help you fix your credit report and settle your accounts.
- First, submit a complaint to the FTC by phone 877-438-4338 or online ftc.gov/complaint. Once you file the complaint, you will receive an Identity Theft Affidavit.
- Take a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit with you to the police and file a police report.
- Your police report and affidavit are the two documents that make up your Identity Theft Report. Keep these documents in a safe place.
5. Place an extended fraud alert on your credit report. When the initial fraud alert ends on your credit reports and you know someone has stolen your identity, you can request an extended fraud alert that is good for seven years. Contact all three credit reporting companies to request the extended alert. They may request a copy of your Identity Theft Report. Always send copies of this report and keep the original for your records.
For more tips on fixing your credit report and avoiding and recovering from identity theft, visit www.consumer.gov and click on the “Scams and Identity Theft” tab.
Even after taking every precaution to protect their personal and financial information, some individuals still fall victim to the crime of identity theft. The costs of restoring your identity and repairing credit reports can add up quickly. Identity theft insurance can help cover these costs.
Some insurers include coverage for identity theft as part of standard homeowners or renters insurance policies. Other companies offer this coverage as an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. The cost for this endorsement generally runs from about $25 to $50 per year.
Identity theft insurance varies from company to company, but some of the benefits this coverage may provide include the following:
- Coverage for expenses incurred to recover your identity, including phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mail costs, and (sometimes with prior consent of your insurance company) attorney fees.
- Restoration and resolution services to assist you in the process of restoring your identity and repairing your credit report.
Contact your Leavitt Group insurance consultant to find out what coverage you already have and for recommendations of additional coverage you may need.