Although identity theft has been around for a long time, it is a relatively new phenomenon as a common occurrence in our society. With the increase of technology as an integral part of everyday life, people are more exposed than ever to the possibility of identity theft.
Identity theft is more than a short-term inconvenience. Many people fail to realize the long-term damage that can occur to a credit score as a result of identity theft. This crime has serious consequences for your credit. According to Forbes online, “You could easily lose more than 100 points as a result of a fraudster’s activities until you clean up your report.”
Steps to take if you have been victimized by identity theft
As soon as you discover that you have frauded, you should take the following steps:
- Step 1 – Report these crimes and stop the immediate damage: Your critical first step is to report the crimes to the authorities, to your banks, your credit card companies and to any other relevant party. Put an immediate freeze on all your lines of credit and debit cards. Eliminate your credit card information from any online vendors who might have this information saved. These measures will stop the bleeding so you can prevent further loss and take other measures to protect yourself.
- Step 2 – Dispute charges you did not agree to: The next step is to look over all bills and statements that could be charging you for anything. Look these over carefully and note down any purchases you are sure you did not make. Then call the issuing entity to dispute the charges. Often, you can get charges removed to minimize the negative impact of non-payment to your credit score.
- Step 3 – Talk to a lawyer: The best move you can make is to talk with an experienced lawyer who protects people from identity theft. A good lawyer can help you through the process, make sure you aren’t missing any important details and protect your credit going forward.
Another important tip, even as you follow the above steps, is to make sure you save your financial records of everything. Receipts, online purchases, emails and other correspondences from vendors and creditors, etc., could all prove helpful in an ensuing legal claim.