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Tips For Dealing With Identity Theft

Author: Beth Bahr

Tips for dealing with identity theft

Some people might view identity theft as something that's likely to happen to someone else, but improbable as far as they are concerned. This isn't due to ignorance or any other fault - it's a basic human instinct to believe that the worst things we can imagine aren't actually going to affect us.

However, it's entirely possible that you or anyone else could become a victim of identifty theft due to mistakes that don't seem particularly significant. Sharing your information online or through another media channel that seems secure, but is actually compromised, is a common cause.

If your name, Social Security number, credit card number or bank information is somehow leaked, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that the damage is minimal.

Begin by contacting your banks and credit providers, informing them of the situation and telling them to cancel your cards and place holds on your accounts. It may be helpful to send them a written summary of the event, including any pertinent supporting documents.

Continue by contacting any of the three major U.S. credit bureaus and asking them to place a fraud alert on your accounts. You only need to contact one of them - they are obligated by law to inform the other two companies of the alert that's been put in place.

Depending on your banking institution or creditor, you may have some or all of the money you have lost refunded to you. This will not be the case with every bank, so some victims of identify theft will have no choice but to cut their losses and move on.

Whether this occurs or not, you can assure yourself that your risks of suffering this loss again will be significantly reduced if you have the credit bureaus place an extended fraud alert on your report. This will remain in effect for seven years and place several restrictions on your accounts that greatly lessen your chances of encountering identity theft.

Are you worried that you could be vulnerable to identity theft? 

In Brief

  • Some people might view identity theft as something that's likely to happen to someone else, but improbable as far as they are concerned.
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