A sinking stomach and sudden feeling of terror is usually what strikes when you find out your identity has been stolen. Who should you call? What cards need to be cancelled? What do you do now? If you’re ever at risk or discover you’ve been the victim of identity theft, here are five steps you should immediately take.
Get to the root of the problem
First things first: Find out which account got hacked. Go through all of your open accounts and the cards linked to them and figure out where the issue started. You should be able to identify the first unauthorized charge pretty quickly and see where the identity thief first accessed your account.
Check your credit history
While you may find one charge that initially alerted you to an issue, there may be multiple charges that were made without your knowledge. Most attackers make a few minor charges first before upping the ante and making large purchases if you haven’t noticed. Check your bank statements and credit history to make sure you know the full scope of the problem.
Contact the police
You should definitely contact your bank first, but then you should file a police report to cover all your bases. If your identity was stolen, there may be other accounts open in your name. Police should be able to locate any criminal who’s stealing your information locally and go after those responsible.
Send out a fraud alert
After filing reports and getting everything sorted out with your financial providers, place a fraud alert on your credit reports. A fraud alert will typically last 90 days and it will notify any bank or financial institution to take precautions to verify the identity of anyone opening an account in your name.
Adjust your accounts
In addition to cancelling all of your cards and opening new ones, you should go into your online accounts and adjust your settings. This includes any autofill passwords for other high use accounts like Amazon or PayPal. Change all of your passwords and set reminders to regularly update them so the identity thief doesn’t try to come back later and hack back into your accounts.