Based on the repeat occurences and popularity of our cyber and most recent Identity updates we wanted to give guidance on ways to help after an invasive event such as this has happened.
Identity theft by our definition is the attempt by someone to utilize your information, either live in person or electronicallly to gain access to your credit or other financial assets.
What to do when your Identiy is Stolen?
First breath easy, you are not the first, will not be the last, and most likely will only incur minor nuances from the event.
Here is a link to the Federal Trade Commissions site on Fraud Alerts. This is our favorite “Go-To” source. It has an enormous amount of sources and information. This directly from the site …
Why Place an Initial Fraud Alert
Three national credit reporting companies keep records of your credit history. If someone has misused your personal or financial information, call 1 of the companies and ask for an initial fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert is free. You must provide proof of your identity. The company you call must tell the other companies about your alert.
An initial fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you. The initial alert stays on your report for at least 90 days. You can renew it after 90 days. It allows you to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.
Instruction From the Federal Trade Commission:
Place a Fraud Alert Electronically
CAUTION – Be extremely careful when using these systems as they will try to have you sign up for a monthly service. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN UP FOR THIS SERVICE. There is a government mandated 90 day free service.
I use Transunion and they also offer a much more detailed free extended service that requires paperwork sent to them that allows a seven year watch.
Identiy Theft Recovery Plan
Depending on the severity of the attack, you may want to contact the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to have them help you set up a recovery plan.
This government site will help you create letters for creditors, debtors as well as specific disputed transactions.
We recommend these actions if someone was successful in gaining access to and withdrawl or charges in your name.
What’s the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?
A credit freeze locks down your credit. A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. For example, if you provide a telephone number, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person making the credit request. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
Other Paid Sources
There are various outside services that complete much of this for your. One of the more marketed is LifeLock. These sources can be very useful in creating a one-stop-shop aggregation for your credit protection. We are not recommending any of these services, only wishing to make you aware.
While the credit agencies, creditors, govenment and the general public become more sophisticated in watching and protecting ourselves from intrusions, we expect the culprits will also become more sophisticated in their attacks. The good news is prevention and awaremeness will most likely help in only minor nuancances in the future!
John A. Kvale CFA, CFP