Each year, approximately 15 million people in the United States experience identity theft. On average, each person loses $3,500, so identity theft is a huge problem. You can define identity theft as the fraudulent use of any information that identifies you, but criminals usually try to steal and use your financial information.
Steps to Take After Someone Steals Your Identity
There are several things you should do after someone steals your identity including:
- If you have identity theft insurance, file a claim.
- Notify companies you do business with that someone has stolen your identity, especially phone and utility companies.
- Create a recovery plan using the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency.
- Contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion so that they can put a note on your credit report and sign up for credit monitoring services. The first report will only stay for 30 days, so ensure you follow up with a letter that will remain in your file for seven years.
- Freeze your credit.
- Change the passwords on your financial accounts and enable any advanced security measures available.
- Inspect your financial records for fraudulent activity.
- Close any accounts that you believe have been compromised.
- File a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau.
- Contact the Social Security Administration.
- If your identity was stolen using mail, then contact the United States Postal Inspector.
What are Your Legal Rights When Someone Steals Your Identity?
Except in substantial cases, identity theft is handled by the state government, and therefore, your rights vary by state. In Wisconsin, identity theft is a Class H felony. Once the person stealing your identity is caught and found guilty, they can be sentenced to up to six years in prison and may have to pay a $10,000 fine. If someone tries to collect a debt where they stole your identity, provide them with the police report and a copy of the complaint you filed with the Consumer Protection Bureau.
ID theft is a serious problem. If we can help, please reach out to us. You must stay proactive in helping to stop identity theft.
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