With this time of increased exposure and potential vulnerability with holiday purchases, sales, returns and more, it is good to have a strategy prepared in the event you suffer an identity breach. The Equifax Finance Blog shares important steps you should be ready to take if you find yourself a victim of identity theft.
First, you need to look out for warning signs, such as when accounts you didn’t open appear on your credit report or if you stop receiving notices for your accounts (thieves may have had notices redirected). If you find that your ID protection has been compromised, your first steps should be to:
- File Fraud Alerts with Credit Reporting Agencies – by notifying Equifax, TransUnion and Experian of the breach, you can prevent thieves from gaining additional accounts in your name. You can generally file alerts by phone, online and by mail. Within 24 hours of request, one agency will alert the others, but it is always best to send alerts to all three in the event of miscommunication between agencies.
- Close the fraudulent accounts – notify each and every account with proof of your identity, and make sure that you sign fraud dispute forms so the account is marked in the event of additional attempts to compromise it.
There are more steps to take, and you can read all about them in the article, “What to Do if You’re the Victim of Identity Theft” on the Equifax Finance Blog. You can also give yourself an additional layer of protection by investing in a credit monitoring service like the one Equifax offers.