Sometimes, even when you follow all of the precautionary steps, identity theft happens. That may sound scary, but unfortunately it’s true. As previously mentioned, last year identity theft cost Americans roughly $1.7 billion, leading the Federal Trade Commission to receive the most identity theft complaints in its history.
The good news is that since identity theft is such a regular occurrence, Wisconsin credit unions are very familiar with the steps you should immediately take if you become a victim — or even if you simply suspect it.
First, get in touch with all financial institutions you have relationships with that may be directly affected and let them know your suspicions or the facts of your situation. Here is DCCU’s contact information.
Fraud alerts warn Wisconsin credit unions and other financial institutions
You may want to place a fraud alert on your credit file, which will caution lenders. A fraud alert can be as simple as making sure lenders call you for confirmation before an extension of credit is granted. You can place a fraud alert with any of the three credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Experian or Equifax) and they will alert the other two. The alert lasts for 90 days, but can be renewed, and is free.
Identity theft recovery first steps
If you’re a confirmed victim of identity theft, however, you will definitely want to skip ahead and place a security freeze on your credit file, which will essentially shut off all access to your credit information. Security freezes prevent creditors from releasing your report without your authorization.
While security freezes typically cost $10 (unless you are a victim or identity theft, in which case they’re normally free) and can be lifted or removed at any time, they must be reported separately to each of the credit reporting agencies. Security freezes may also interfere with, or delay the approval of, any request or application you make to a creditor. If you plan to lift a freeze, make sure to do so a few days ahead of requesting new credit.
Federal Trade Commission
If you have become a victim of identity theft, you must also reach out to the Federal Trade Commission online, by phone or by mail to create an identity theft report. The final part of this report involves contacting your local law enforcement to file a report.
Social Security Administration
Finally, you should contact the Social Security Administration (whether your number has been compromised or not) in order to make sure the thief doesn’t obtain things like employment or a tax refund in your name.