New Tool Helps Victims of Identity Theft Recover
The FTC will guide you in wresting your identity back from criminals
If you know someone who's had their identity stolen, you may have a vague sense of the weeks or months or even years of hassle and countless hours of work that getting it back, and avoiding liability for debts incurred, can involve. Would you even know what to do if you were a victim of identity theft?
For the 2.7 or so million people who have their identifies stolen each year (based on 2014 IRS figures), there's a new tool at Identitytheft.gov that walks you through the process. The actions are divided into three sections:
- What to do right away. These steps range from reporting the fraud charges to the company involved to freezing your credit reports. The site provides sample letters and contact information to help you do what's needed.
- What to do next. Measures include correcting your credit report, addressing bogus charges and closing any fraudulent accounts.
- Other steps to take. These are optional and can be catered to your particular situation, including child identity theft and medical identity theft.
Once you enter your information and report your case, the site creates a recovery plan for you, tracks your progress and pre-fills any necessary letters or forms.
Know that if your identity is stolen, according to Identitytheft.gov you have certain rights under the law, including the right to:
- Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit report.
- Add a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit report.
- Get free copies of your credit report.
- Get fraudulent information removed from your credit report.
- Dispute fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report.
- Stop creditors and debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts.
- Get copies of documents related to the identity theft.
- Stop a debt collector from contacting you.
Here's a video about how it all works.
How will you know if your identity has been stolen?
According to the FTC, here are clues that a criminal is using your personal information:
- You notice withdrawals from your bank account that you didn't make.
- You don't get bills or other mail.
- You get medical bills for services you didn't use.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that are not yours.
- Strange accounts or charges appear on your credit report.
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says you earned income from an employer you don't work for.
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