In an age where data is an asset, a data breach can have devastating effects, including identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone else uses your personal information to pretend to be you. It can ruin your image, cost you money through fraud, and put you at risk of lawsuits when criminals use your information to advance illegal activities. In the case of identity theft, the best thing you can do is minimize the unpleasant effects it can have on you or your business. Here are actions you should take as a victim of identity theft in Nashville.
1. File a Case with the Nashville Police
File a case with your local police department and request a copy for your records. When you report to the police, it creates a paper trail that will be helpful if a person uses your information for criminal activities. It will be easier to solve the case and absolve you from wrongdoing. It can also help track local identity thieves if the event did not happen online or overseas.
2. Place Fraud Alert on Credit Cards
One of the first things you should do after experiencing identity theft is to place a fraud alert on your credit cards. This is especially true if your Social Security number, bank details, or driver’s license were physically stolen. It is also necessary if a data breach exposes your personal information. Contact a credit bureau like Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. When you report to one, it will alert the rest of the credit bureaus.
3. Freeze Your Credit Report
To avoid anyone from taking loans in your name after identity theft, freeze your credit report with credit bureaus. Once you freeze your credit report, no one can access credit even with your information. The good thing is that the process is free, and you can unfreeze it whenever you want. However, you have to contact the credit bureaus individually. Keep your PIN safe as you may need to lift the freeze for employers or other parties that may want to check your credit rating.
4. Report to Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission collects data about cases involving identity theft. While it doesn’t have the power to carry out criminal charges, the FBI and other law enforcement agents can use the information to track identity thieves and other perpetrators. You also get access to a recovery plan, forms, and prefilled letters that you can use to file police reports and contest any fraud charges.
When reporting to the FTC, do it as soon as possible. You can do so on their website. Note you will be liable for only $50 of unauthorized credit card or bank use, given you report the case within two days.
5. Report and Replace Stolen Identifications
If identity theft occurs due to stolen identification documents, report and replace them. You can apply for a new Social Security Card on the Social Security Administration website and report to the Office of the Inspector General. Also, visit your local DMV for a new driver’s license, and get a new Passport at the U.S Department of State.
6. Change the Information on Your Online Accounts
Once you fall victim to identity theft, it is time to update the security of your online accounts. Change your passwords and usernames, and implement other security measures like using two-factor authentications. Use strong passwords and avoid including your birth year, date, or name, as they are easy to guess and hack.
The files uploaded to cloud services can contain sensitive information that can be stolen and used to commit additional identity theft attempts. When choosing an online file storage system, use one that is highly reviewed for its security and encryption.
7. Review Your Credit Reports, Credit Card, and Bank Statements
Review your credit report for any new accounts that you don’t recognize. You should also check your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized transactions or charges. If you find anything suspicious, contact the institution to inform them about the identity theft situation and request them to close any unknown or mysterious accounts.