Identity theft victims reported losing more than $ 15 billion in 2014. That’s more than the combined losses from theft, motor vehicle theft, and other property theft in the same period. While it’s no wonder identity theft can leave you feeling vulnerable, there are things you can do to take some control.

Step 1: request your credit report when you realize that you have become a victim. You should quickly find out any errors that appear in your report. Visit for free copies of your report from the three national credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

If you see errors or fraudulent charges, report them to the credit reporting companies immediately. They will investigate those items and then forward the information to the company that reported it. The company has 30 days to respond.

If the company providing the loan finds an error, it should notify the credit reporting company so that your file can be corrected. If your credit changes due to the company’s investigation, the reporting company will send you a letter with the results.

Step 2: place a fraud alert to make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. Call any of the three credit reporting companies nationwide and ask them to put an initial fraud alert on your credit report. They should contact the other two companies about their alert.







While there is an alert on your report, each time a business conducts a credit inquiry, they will need to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name. This may require contacting you, so make sure you’ve updated your credit report with your current contact information. The alert will stay on your report for 90 days and will allow you to request an additional free copy of your report from each of the three credit reporting companies.

Step 3: Consider a credit freeze. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, gives you maximum control over who has access to your credit. You can prevent a thief from opening new accounts in your name because lenders and other creditors will not be able to obtain your credit report.

With a credit freeze in place, even you will have to take special steps to apply for credit. You can still open new accounts, apply for a job, rent an apartment, buy insurance, refinance your mortgage, or do whatever else your credit report requires. But companies will need to verify your identity, so they may need to contact you and you will have to call the reporting company to lift the freeze so that the company can review your report. Again, make sure they have your most up-to-date information through your credit report.

Some things to know: Due to strict laws, you will need to contact each reporting company separately to perform a credit freeze. Also, the credit freeze does not affect your credit score. Finally, the cost depends on where you live. If you are 65 or older, or are the victim of identity theft and file a valid incident or investigation report, complaint with a law enforcement agency or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you will not be charged for the rate.

Step 4: File an Identity Theft Report. An identity theft report is a great weapon. You can use it to remove fraudulent information from your credit report; prevent a company from collecting debts resulting from identity theft or from selling the debt to another company for collection. You can also use it to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report and to obtain information about the accounts that the identity thief opened or misused.

Filing an identity theft report is simple: File a complaint about theft with the FTC. When you finish entering all the details, print a copy of the report. It will be printed as an affidavit of identity.

File a police report on your identity theft and get a copy of the police report or report number. (Be sure to bring your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and attach it to your police report.)

Some credit reporting companies may request more information or documentation than is included in the Identity Theft Report. It depends on the policies of the credit reporting company and the company that submitted information about you to the reporting company.

Step 5: Report fraud on existing accounts. For any of your accounts showing fraudulent charges, contact the company immediately. Explain that you are the victim of identity theft. Close the account and follow your reporting process. You can ask if they will accept your Identity Theft Report. Also, write to the fraud department of each company. By law, they must review your letter, investigate your complaint, and inform you of the results of their investigation. If the information is incorrect, the business must report it to the credit reporting company. Be sure to request a letter from the company confirming that they removed the fraudulent information.

On any credit card or bank account that remains open, take steps to protect yourself. Change your password and put keywords in accounts that allow it. Code words are offered on some accounts as an additional level of security. Usually you can choose your code word. You may consider using something that only you know about and that is not public knowledge. Lastly, continuously monitor your accounts and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.

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