All right, so it happened. Even with all of the precautions and care you’ve taken to protect yourself from those spineless and despicable thieves, somehow and someway they found a way to the inside…to the inside your personal and financial life that is. Now don’t be too hard on yourself.
I know that you’re saying to yourself right now, “I did everything I could possibly do. I took the time to make myself aware and educate myself on the facts and this still happened…why?” Well, unfortunately sometimes there is no real answer to the question why, it just is what it is. You have to keep in mind that these perpetrators are professionals and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.
Just like you go to work everyday and perform your job with the proficiency and skills that you have acquired, so do they. Their job everyday is to rip off honest, hardworking and innocent people such as you and I. It’s not fair and it never will be. They have made a huge mess of your life and you are the one who is stuck with the task of picking up the pieces and turning things right again. Sometimes you can build that fence higher, make the bridge more difficult to cross and even fill the moat with alligators, but inevitably there will always remain a weak and penetrable spot. Identity thieves are adept at looking for and seeking out those particular spots.
The most important thing for you to keep in mind right now is that regardless of how much damage was done and how bad the situation looks at present, it could always be worse. Think about what would have happened had you not already been so familiar with how identity theft works. You may not have been able to prevent it but you certainly knew how to recognize the fact that it was happening to you.
The signs were there and you didn’t just dismiss them, as many others would have this early in the process. Maybe you noticed that your credit card statements had not arrived at the time of month that they generally should have. Perhaps during regular review of your bank statements you noticed some unusual transactions that you had not made.
Maybe in looking more closely at the checks that had been returned to you from the bank you realized that one or several of them were made payable to an unknown individual, tipping you off to the fact that some of your checks had been stolen. Whatever the situation, you are to be congratulated for catching on so quickly. You now have the ability to stop this thief cold in his tracks and prevent him/her from violating your privacy any further. This could have gone on for months and months or perhaps even years and in the process could have resulted in hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of built up debt and a lifetime of rebuilding the reputable line of credit you once had.
The task at hand now is to deal with the damage that has been done and prevent any additional from occurring. You may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed right now at the many thoughts that are swirling around in your head of all the things that need to be done immediately. However, just try to be calm, breathe deeply and you will get through this.
Let’s take some time right now to go through a complete and thorough task list. Keep in mind that depending on the type of identity theft you have been the victim of not all of these actions may be necessary. Yet it is important to cover as many bases as possible. Although your thief for instance may have only accessed one of your credit cards, the possibility exists for them to have gained a lot more of your personal information with that one card.
Steps to Take in Recovering Your Identity and Line of Credit
Ensure that you report the crime to the police right away and request a copy of the police report as you may be required to provide it as proof of the crime when you are later contacting the businesses and organizations you need to deal with
Document all of the steps that you take, names of all the people whom you deal with and any expenses you incur in re-establishing your credit and clearing your name
Cancel all of your credit cards and have new ones issued
Close all of your bank accounts and open new ones
Order new bank machine and telephone calling cards and change all of your passwords
If your passport has been stolen contact the passport office
If your mail has been diverted, contact the post office
Apply for a new driver’s license
Advise all of your utility companies (including home telephone and cellular service providers) that someone using your name may attempt to open unauthorized new accounts
Contact the fraud departments for each of the three major credit bureaus to ensure that your credit reports reflects the case of identity theft and follow up with them after a 3 month period to ensure that someone has not tried again to use your identity. This will also ensure that your permission is received prior to opening any new types of credit accounts
Ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit report so that you may carefully review them and ensure that no fraudulent loans or accounts exist
Notify your bank of stolen or misplaced checks, ensure a stop payment order is placed on them and contact the major check verification companies requesting that they notify retailers using their databases not to accept the lost or stolen checks
Contact the Federal Trade Commission who will assist you as a victim by providing information that will help you to resolve any financial issues or other problems as a result of your identity theft