How To Start Identity Theft Recovery

Ready to start identity theft recovery, here are 5 steps to help you on the way

Once you get over the shock of someone else using your personal information, start taking the steps for identity theft recovery as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that someone else will gain access to your information, and the longer it will take to regain access to your accounts.

STEP 1: Freeze everything

Even if only one credit card has been affected, you need to stop everything until you find out the damage that has been done. If someone can access one of your accounts, they may be able to get into others. Be on the safe side and lock everything up while you assess the problem.

STEP 2: Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and pull a copy from each of the three companies

A fraud alert means that anytime anyone applies for credit in your name, or anytime suspicious behavior occurs on your credit report, the company will check with you until you remove the fraud alert. It's just as important to grab the credit reports and look them over too. That way you can see what damage has occurred and try to fix it.

STEP 3: File a complaint with the police and another with the Federal Trade Commission

In all honesty, these actions probably won't help with identity theft recovery -- there's not much either agency can do to help you. But logging the complaint can be useful if you're a victim in the future, and it can help lead to the thief's arrest. Access the Federal Trade Commission and begin the process.

STEP 4: Try to recover as much as possible

Some people advise getting a new SSN after identity theft, but that can actually be a time consuming, difficult, and even dangerous process. It'll wipe out your earlier credit records and may make future applications difficult. We believe a better method of identity theft recovery is simply closing down everything the thief had access to and placing fraud alerts on all of your accounts, but be sure to check with your financial and legal advisors.

Identity theft is a difficult and painful occurrence, so try to take your mind off it and focus instead on identity theft recovery.

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