Steps to Take if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

Many of us have gotten a phone call or letter from the bank saying that your account or credit or debit card has been compromised. I’ve been one of these people. Your heart drops and all you can think of is how am I going to fix all this? Here are some helpful steps to make sure that you’re covered if you fall victim to identity theft.

Step 1: Call your financial institution and lockdown the problem account. You may be contacted by your credit union about unusual charges, or you may see them on a statement. In that case, the first step is to contact your financial institution, dispute the charges and ask them to lock or close the account. You’ll want to get a new Debit Card to get a fresh start. The credit union makes it easy for you and will help you every step of the way.

Step 2: Scan credit card, bank statements and your credit report for other unauthorized charges. Pull up your other accounts and scan old statements for other charges that you don’t recognize. Don’t forget to review dormant or infrequently used accounts as well. The credit union makes it simple for you to review your statements at all times with eStatements. Don’t forget to also look at your credit report to assess whether you’re a victim of credit card fraud or a stolen identity. Request copies from all three major reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – and look for any accounts you may not recognize.

Step 3: File Fraud paperwork and contact your local police department. You should contact your local police department and file a report. Although the police may not be able to do anything if your identity was stolen by criminals online or overseas, your report could help them track down someone who is stealing information locally. When I was a victim of the Schnucks breach several years ago, filing a police report helped them catch the criminal.

Step 4: Sign up for a credit monitoring service and place a fraud alert on your credit reports. If your information was accessed in a data breach, you’ll want to invest in a credit monitoring service. This can range in price, but I chose to go the free route and check mine all the time through CreditKarma. It is a free service where you can see your accounts, your last reported balances and what’s affecting your credit scores. If your credit report had fraudulent activity, you’ll want to follow up with the credit bureaus and request a fraud alert be placed on your account.

Remember, anyone can become a victim of identity theft. So, whether you shop online (or not), use a debit card (or not), or take advantage of mobile banking services anyone can become a victim of identity theft at any time. Just remain calm, follow these steps, and trust the credit union to help you get back on track.

Stay safe my friends,
chelseaSpringli_signature
Chelsea Springli

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