Identity Theft – Tips for Fixing the Problem

Posted by Jorge Guerrero, CPA

Fraud ProtectionIn light of all of the data breaches that are in the news, it’s no wonder that identity theft is on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission reports that every year over 9.9 million Americans are victimized. Discovering that you have become a victim can put your life in a bit of tail-spin. TransUnion reports that the average person will spend $500 and 30 hours cleaning up the mess.  This doesn’t include the loss of sleep or the mental trauma of being violated.  It is important for victims to not lose hope because the problem is fixable and they will recover.

There are resources available to you if you feel that you are a victim of identity theft.  The Federal Trade Commission has set-up a website to help people who have had their identities stolen.  Here are some helpful tips for getting the problem corrected:

  • Stop and breathe! You will get through this.
  • Get your information together. Take the time to write down what happened and how was it discovered.  Then, pull all of your financial information (banks, brokers, creditors, utilities, etc.) including account numbers and phone numbers.
  • File a police report with your local police department.
  • File a complaint with The Federal Trade Commission. This can be done by calling 1-877-438-4338 or visiting their website.
  • Request a copy of your credit report.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice.
  • Place a “fraud alert” on your credit records by contacting the three major credit bureaus.
  • File Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS. If you are a victim of “tax-related” identity theft, request a copy of the fraudulent return from the IRS.
  • Use the information you gathered above to contact your bank and creditors to alert about this issue. They most likely will issue new account numbers and cards.
  • Close any accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently.

It is very important for you to keep a log of who you contacted and when. You need to keep copies of any letters you send as well.

Important Links and Phone Numbers:

Equifax: 1-800- 525-6285

Experian: 1-888-397-3742

Transunion: 1-800-680-7289

Social Security Administration

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft

IRS Form 14039

 

Photo by Jonathon Colman (License)

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