How to Head Off an Identity Thief
6 November 2015
If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft, don’t panic! While it can certainly be stressful to know your security has been compromised, there are several steps you can take right away to halt identity thieves before they can do any more damage to your credit account.
As soon as you suspect your identity has been compromised, call the companies where you know fraud occurred. Once you connect to their fraud department, explain that someone stole your identity and ask them to close or freeze your accounts. A credit freeze prevents anyone from making new charges unless you agree, which can limit an identity thief’s activity right away. Then, be sure to change your login credentials for the accounts associated with the compromised lines of credit.
After getting in touch with the creditor, it’s time to contact the credit bureaus and request a fraud alert. A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. You only need to contact one, either TransUnion or Equifax, as each is required to notify the other when placing a fraud alert. Then, request a copy of your credit report. If you are still eligible to receive a free one this year, now is a good time to use it. Otherwise, it is certainly worth paying to take a look at your credit history so that you can note any transactions you don’t recognize.
Having locked the identity thief out of your credit accounts, it’s time to take a moment and report the fraud. You should report the incident to both the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and your local law enforcement agency. Be sure to collect and save a copy of the police report and any documentation you receive from the CAFC.
The next step is to begin repairing the damage, working with creditors to close any new accounts that the identity thief opened in your name, remove fraudulent charges from your bills and correct your credit report.
Of course, these tactics are much more effective when employed quickly after your identity has been compromised. To receive alerts as soon as potentially fraudulent activity takes place in your name, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service like Identity Guard. With our up-to-date notification system, you will be able to halt identity thieves in their tracks—hopefully before they have a chance to do any lasting damage.