Urgent To-Do List For
Identity Theft Victims

  • Identity theft victims alert;

Identity theft in America has hit an all time high and has been magnified by the "tanking" of our economy.

Identity theft victims need to follow critical steps to recover.

If you are a victim of identity theft there are certain steps you must take.

I have outlined the steps below to protect yourself from further harm and restore your identity.

Identity theft victims must call the police as soon as you're aware you are a victim of identity theft.

  • When you file your report you will be given a file number. Be sure to keep this in a safe place.
  • Call the credit bureaus and complete their identity theft affidavit to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

See more tips at identity theft solutions.

  • Be sure to review your credit reports and dispute any information or charges that are not accurate.
  • Remember, you need a current credit report number, no older than 90 (Equifax is 60 days, not 90) days, to file a dispute.
  • A police report will help convince creditors that you have been a victim of identity theft.

The police report should be sent with the fraud affidavit you send to creditors.

  • Don't get bullied into paying for charges you didn't make on accounts you didn't open.
  • Stand your ground. After you file the dispute of identity theft affidavit for the fraudulent accounts and charges, you don't have to pay the disputed charges.
  • The charges can't be given to a collection agency, per the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act.
  • Notify the bank and close the compromised accounts. This will limit your exposure.
  • If your checks have been lost or stolen, be sure the bank notifies the verification companies of the lost or stolen checks.

This will alert merchants of fraudulent checks.

  • Check all checking and savings accounts for discrepancies.
  • Department of Motor Vehicles-place a lost/stolen warning on your file and request a replacement driver's license.
  • If it was mail theft, contact your local post office and let them know you suspect you are an identity theft victim.

Remember, changing your patterns and behavior will help keep you from becoming an identity theft victim.

Also learn more at cyber identity theft on how to protect yourself online.

More Tips For Victims
Of Identity Theft

  • Close out compromised bank accounts.
  • Identity theft victims need to make sure their new account has enough in it to pay off the checks written from their old account.
  • For each check you have written from your compromised account, you need to provide the check number, name of payee, amount and the date written.
  • Don't write new checks on the account. If you do, they will come back with a closed account stamped on them and will not be paid.
  • You must work with your bank to cover the outstanding checks.
  • Make sure you double-check your credit report to see if any fraudulent accounts have been opened.
  • Notify your bank or other financial institutions that the accounts were not opened by you and that you have been a victim of identity theft.
  • Send the fraud affidavit to the bank (or use the bank fraud form).
Check with your bank first to see what form is required. Some banks only accept their own form.

I know it is a pain to close all accounts such as your savings and checking, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

In the long run, the expense and time identity theft victims put in is nothing compared to what will happen if you leave a lot of loose ends and don't close all the holes that an identity thief can exploit.

Critical Steps To Take
For Identity Theft Victims!

  • While you go through the process above, make sure you document, document, document.

Don't leave to chance all the conversations you have with police, credit bureaus, credit card companies, etc.

  • Information does not remain clear in a person's mind for extended periods of time, especially under such chaotic conditions.

Make sure you document the company, contact person, time, date, phone number and the conversation that took place.

  • Also ask for something in writing to confirm any agreements made between you and a company.

Keep all information concer

For additional steps to protect yourself see, credit freeze.

Did You Know?

  • Identity theft victims need to contact their local bank if their personal checks have been stolen or lost and make sure they freeze their account.

(Go to credit freeze to learn what you need to do to freeze your credit.

  • Have the bank contact ChexSystems to alert them that your checks have been lost or stolen.
  • Banks and credit unions use a network called ChexSystems to report mishandled checking accounts, which are overdrawn account.
  • Only the banks that subscribe to the service are able to report mishandled accounts; but, as a consumer, you can report stolen or lost checks.
  • Members report the history of account mishandling and the outstanding debt.
  • Again, don't forget to contact your local police department and report the lost or stolen checks.

You should also call one of the check -verification companies listed below and inform them your checks have been stolen or lost.

  • ChexSystems

  • Certegy, Inc.

  • SCAN

  • TeleCheck
    (800)366-2425 USA
    (800)361-8199 Canada

For more information please see identity theft help.

  • The SCAN report has information on where your checks have been cashed and have come back as Non Sufficient Funds (NSF) from your bank. The SCAN web site has a forgery affidavit to use if your checks have been stolen or lost.

Closing Credit Accounts

  • Identity theft victims need to make sure they close all their credit accounts that they didn't open or authorize to be opened.

Also, close any credit accounts that are not used. Accounts can be closed by telephone.

  • To close an account by phone, use the handy check list below for identity theft victims.

Card Number

  • Ask for the balance on the account and the last payment. Remember to dispute the unauthorized charges.

Note The Date, Time You Called

  • Write down the date, time and name of the person you talked to about closing the account.

Request The Account Be Closed

  • Notations to show you closed the account.

Confirmation Letter

  • The date you can expect the confirmation letter showing the account was closed.
  • Sending a letter to the card issuer will also close a credit account.

Ask for a written confirmation that the account has been closed.

  • The credit card company does not automatically close accounts that you have not used that are paid in full and have a zero balance.
  • You need to tell them to close the accounts. Just cutting up your cards does Not close the account.

Did You Know?

  • Identity theft victims who monitor their bank and credit card accounts were more likely to detect ID theft within a few days.

In most cases, those victims were able to limit their average losses to $551.00.

Opening Your New Accounts

  • You need to open new accounts after you have closed your old ones.

You will be issued new temporary checks to use until your permanent ones are printed.

  • Be aware, you will probably be given the third degree, as your temporary checks will not have your name, address or phone number printed on them.
  • When you order your new checks, make sure you tell the person taking your order that you want to pick your checks up at the bank.

This is a very important part of the process.

  • Although I know it is a real hassle to do this, and you will be tempted to skip this part, for your own sake please don't.
  • If your checks are the item that the identity thieves have chosen to target, the last thing you want to do is give the thief access to your new blank checks to steal.

This will put you right back where you started and possibly make matters even worse. Don't Do It!

  • Your new checks will usually have your name, address and phone number printed on them, along with your bank routing number, account number and the name and address of your bank.

You leave yourself wide open for an identity thief to steal your checks and make up a false ID to use your checks as his/her own.

Here Are Some Tips Identity Theft Victims Need To Keep In Mind When Opening Your New Account.

Savings Account

  • Transfer the balance from your old closed accounts.
  • Check your balance

Checking Account

  • Transfer the balance from your old closed accounts.
  • Order your new checks, but make sure you have them sent to your bank to pick up.
  • Remember to get temporary checks until your new ones are printed.
  • Get a new ATM card and remember to make a new PIN number. Do Not use your old PIN number.
  • Check the balances on your accounts.

Did You Know?

  • Identity theft victims who detected the fraud by reading paper statements were unable to detect it for nearly a month, and lost an average of $4600.00.
  • Don't forget to tell your employer about your new account number in case you have direct deposit.

You sure don't want your paycheck floating around out there with no safe place to land.

  • Your employer will need a voided check from your new checking account to make this change.
  • Make sure you keep records of deposit receipts, checks you write, direct deposit stubs from your paychecks and anything that will help you balance your checkbook.
  • You want to make sure you keep an eye on the balance of your account.
  • Your savings account only has deposits and withdrawals to keep track of, so this is easier to take care of.
  • Don't forget to faithfully check your accounts on a monthly basis, if not more often.

Lost Or Stolen ATM Cards

  • Identity theft victims need to contact the bank immediately if your ATM card is lost or stolen, even is this happens on a holiday or weekends. You usually have several choices.
  • ATM's are the target of identity theft in America in a huge scam.
    • Go to your bank's online web site and report your lost card. Most banks have a 24 hour number you can call for help.
    • Visit a branch of your bank during business hours and report your lost card.
    • Call your bank at the number that is printed on your monthly statement and report your stolen or lost card.
    • After you report your lost or stolen card, your bank will cancel your card immediately, and a new one will be issued usually within 10 days.
    • When traveling abroad, most banks will arrange a new temporary card for your convenience.
    • The possibility of someone having your PIN number and using it to drain your account is small, so it is up to you if you decide to close this account.
    • If your ATM is attached to your savings account, make sure you close this account and open a new one.

    Personally, I wouldn't take even a small chance, and would close the account in question.

    For more important ATM tips see, atm security.

    • Don't forget to change your PIN number. This is an extremely important step to remember to take for identity theft victims.
    • If you're an identity theft victim and your ATM card is used to drain your bank accounts you must report the loss within 48 hours; otherwise, you may be liable for $500 in loss from your accounts.
    • To limit your liability to $50 if your ATM is lost, make sure you report it within the time limit.

    ATM/debit cards have the same zero liability as a credit card.

    • This means by law, if you weren't negligent and reported the theft in a timely fashion, you are held to only the $50 maximum.
    • In practice, financial institutions are Not holding to the $50, but are claiming zero liability for marketing and PR.
    • The requirement for reporting is, from the time you discover the loss, not necessarily when the loss occurred.
    • In reviewing your monthly account statement you notice unauthorized withdrawals on your statement, you need to report it to your bank immediately.
    • You only have 60 days from the date the account was mailed to you to report any unauthorized withdrawals on your monthly statement, or you can potentially lose all the money in your account.

    New Pin Number

    • All your accounts are now new and you have your new ATM card. Have you remembered to change your pin number?
    • This is crucial because, if you're an identity theft victim and your account was compromised, you can't know for sure whether your pin number was also compromised.
    • Don't assume an identity thief wouldn't have this. Don't Be Sorry, Be Safe!

    You are probably tired of me repeating myself, but it's important; and, hopefully, it will make a permanent impression to do the things you need to do.

    • Choose a new pin number that you do not have to write down; something easy for you to remember.
    • Do Not choose your birthday or the last four digits of your social security number.
    • Use numbers that are totally unfamiliar to others and something that is not easy for an identity thief to guess.

    Opening New Credit Card Accounts

    • Opening new credit card accounts will not compromise your credit rating If you have been a victim of identity theft and filed all the proper notifications and closed all compromised and fraudulent accounts.

    Don't get too carried away though.

    • It is better Not to open two credit card accounts at the same time so you can maintain a good credit rating.
    • The new accounts have not been open long enough to age, or have a credit history, so stagger the new accounts when you open them.
    • It is better to have only a couple of accounts after being a victim of identity theft.

    You are trying to take care of the mess the thief caused you, and it is much easier to keep track of one or two accounts then a large number of them.

    • Remember the fraud alert you put on our credit report? When you open your new accounts, you will be asked to show proof of your identity.
    • The fraud alert on your credit report will require the creditors to verify your identity, and the credit bureau will notify you of the inquiry that has been made about your credit.

    See more tips at avoiding identity theft and ways to prevent identity theft.

    I hope everyone will take heed of the advice here and identity theft victims will follow the above steps to help in your fight against this crime against you.

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