What to do if someone steals your identity

This was originally published on Monday, July 29, 2013, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

If you do become a victim of identity theft, act quickly to start repairing the damage. The sooner you act, the better chance you have to minimize the loss of financial accounts and to your repair your identity.

• Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and report that you are a victim of identity theft. You can do this online by going towww.consumer.ftc.gov. By phone toll free at 1-877-ID THEFT (1-877-438-4338). Or by mail at Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington DC 20580

• Place an initial fraud alert with one of the three national credit reporting companies. You only need to contact one, by law they must share with the other two companies. By placing the fraud alert, it will be harder for the thief to open more accounts under your name.

Equifax: To report fraud, call 1-800-525-6285 or write to P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374-0250.

Experian: To report fraud, call 1-888-EXPERIAN or 1-888-397-3742, fax to 1-800-301-7196, or write to P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013.

Trans Union: To report fraud, call 1-800-680-7289 or write to P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634.

Order a copy of your credit report. Because you placed an initial fraud alert, you are now entitled to a free credit report even if you had requested a free one in the last year.

Contact the companies in which your account has been tampered with. Send a letter explaining the identification theft. Send the letter by certified mail and ask for a receipt. Dispute any errors on the account.

• Create an identity theft report by filing a complaint with the Federal trade Commission and print your identity theft affidavit. Take the affidavit to the police and file a report. Your identity theft affidavit and police report make your identity theft report.

• Contact the Department of Revenue and Taxation to report violations if you believe that your identity theft may impact your taxes.

• Contact the Social Security Administration if you feel that your Social Security Number is in jeopardy or was compromised. You may need to request for a new number.

• You also may want to contact the Postal Inspection Service to change your address. If your identity theft happened by mail, contact the Postal Inspection Service right away and inform them of the issue.

• Contact your banking institutions as soon as possible. If the theft happened due to a lost or stolen credit or ATM card, you will need to get a police report stating what happened before going to the institution. You should go through all your account statements and search for any unauthorized or suspicious activity.

Keep records of all your communications, who and when you talked to. If you fax or mail documents, be sure to get confirmation that you sent the documents and that the company received it. It may take a while to get your finances back in order after the crime.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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