Identity theft may be preventable, but when it occurs, it can be terrible to experience and difficult to recover from. If a crook steals your identity, they may not just hijack your accounts and steal your money; they can cripple your finances, harm your credit rating and make you liable for taxes that you don’t owe. It’s important to know and look out for the signs that your identity has been taken and used to harm you. Although Identity Theft Insurance can be purchased to help manage the effects of identity theft on your life, there are still actions that must be taken quickly to mitigate identity theft’s consequences.
Remember—If you think your Delta Community accounts have been compromised, contact our Member Care Center via our toll-free number at 800-544-3328.
Following are just some of the steps to take that may help reclaim your life and finances after your identity has been stolen. This list is partial, but links to other useful organizations and to more authoritative U.S. government sites on identity theft are featured farther in this post.
- Keep in mind that it’s extremely important to keep a paper and digital record of all the actions you take to reclaim your identity, including who you spoke to and when. Take detailed notes of conversations and save emails and copies of hard-copy letters. Keep all this documentation somewhere safe. Cellphones can be used to photograph or scan documents if you don’t have easy access to a scanner.
- Quickly contact the fraud department at every company where you have financial accounts (including banking, credit or debit card, investment and retirement) and for every company where there are bills that you pay monthly accounts. These may include—but are not limited to—phone, internet, cellphone, utilities such as gas and electric, online streaming services and gym memberships). Contact these departments even if no fraud has occurred with your account at some of these companies.
- Carefully and clearly explain to the fraud departments that your identity was stolen and provide details of what happened. Ask them what the options are for protecting your accounts, such as closing, or freezing and monitoring them for suspicious activity.
- Request new credit, debit or identity cards from the companies based on their recommendations.
- If you have antivirus/antimalware software installed on your personal computer, use it to run the most thorough scan it offers on all drives, folders and files in the computer.
- Change logins, passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for all of your accounts.
- Request a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit report by contacting one of the three U.S. national credit agencies that rate and report on individual’s credit scores; details on how to do that are below. When you contact one of the agencies, it is required by federal legislation to inform the other two of your circumstances and your request. The U.S. government legislation the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) of 2003 gives consumers the right to one free credit report a year from the credit reporting agencies and also adds provisions designed to prevent and mitigate identity theft, including a section that enables consumers to place fraud alerts in their credit files. The free fraud alert on your credit report will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name, and if you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it is allowed to issue new credit in your name. The fraud alert may be renewed after its first year.
- The three national credit agencies to contact to set up fraud alerts are below. After initiating a fraud alert, you should be sent a letter from each credit agency confirming that they placed a fraud alert on your credit report file. If you receive these letters, hold on to them.
- Get a free annual copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Carefully review your reports and flag any account or transaction that you don’t remember or understand. Any fraudulent actions you can identify will help when you report the identity theft to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and law enforcement agencies, such as the police. Keep the credit report with your other documents related to the identity theft.
- Report the theft of your identity to the FTC, using either its online form or calling 1-877-438-4338. Include as many details as possible from credit reports and accounts, as wells as dates, times, email messages, email and website addresses, text messages, phone calls, amounts of money, accounts closed or opened illegally, bills, loans, withdrawals, debit card withdrawals or credit card charges that are fraudulent and related to the theft. Based on the information you enter into the online form, the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov site will create your personalized Identity Theft Report and recovery plan. Your Identity Theft Report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity, and it also guarantees you certain rights under the FACT Act and other U.S. legislation. If you create an account with IdentityTheft.gov, the site will walk you through each recovery step, update your plan as needed, track your progress, and pre-fill forms and letters for you. Be certain to print at least one copy of your Identity Theft Report and retain it.
- Prepare to report the identity theft to a local police office. Call your local police department and ask how to go about filing a local identity theft report—what documents you need and where you should go to make the report. Gather the documents you will need, and they may include at least some or all of those listed below.
- A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report
- A government-issued identification with a photo
- Proof of your physical address where you reside most of the time (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill)
- Any other proof you have of the theft (printed copies of bills, credit card and other account statements, your credit report, Internal Revenue Service tax or other notices, delinquent payment notices, notices of accounts closed and opened and, possibly, other documents)
- The FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement
- Go to the police office and report the identity theft. Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report, and be certain to get at least one copy of the police report. Hold on the police report as part of your identity theft documentation.
- If you need additional details on how your stolen identity has been used to harm you, then request records about the identity theft from the company where the theft took place, such as a credit card issuer, credit union or bank. U.S. law guarantees the right to that information in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). More information can be helpful to your case; for example, details on the theft activity may help you prove that the identity thief took out a loan in your name and you didn’t. Having more information may also assist you or law enforcement in determining who the thief is, since specific information from the company might reveal the identity thief’s bank account number or their contact information, prove your innocence and help the police locate the thief. To obtain more information related to the identity theft, you must send your request in writing to the company (or companies) where the fraud took place; there may be details on which department to send the letter to on the company’s website, or call it for the correct name and address information. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. The company then has 30 days to give you those records at no charge. Along with your request letter, send these three documents:
- Proof of your identity, such as copy of your driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. passport card or other valid identification
- A completed FTC Identity Theft Report from IdentityTheft.gov
- A copy of the police report about the identity theft from your local police department
The steps above only cover some of the basic actions of managing identity theft. As previously mentioned in this post, a very detailed source for trying to fix the effects of identity theft is the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov, and it’s well worth a visit and thorough review of its capabilities and advice.
Another resource for good information is BALANCE™. BALANCE™ is a financial education and counseling organization that offers free services to Delta Community members. Some of its services include credit report reviews, debt management, and information on budgeting, money management and home buying.
Visit the BALANCE™ website to learn about their education and assistance programs. Members can also speak with certified credit and housing counselors to get personalized guidance.
Want to connect with a Financial Coach about your specific situation? Chat online, email, or call 1-888-456-2227 to speak with a Financial Coach today.
Note that the services offered through BALANCE™ are separate and distinct from any business conducted with Delta Community and are not guaranteed by, nor are they obligations of, the Credit Union.
Be cautious about your accounts
More information on protecting accounts—and financial guidance—is available from free Delta Community Financial Education Center webinars on a range of money-related topics. You can visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to register for its no-cost, on-demand webinars.
There are a range of Delta Community blog and security posts on managing online personal security: