When the cold realisation that you’ve been “had” by an identity thief dawns, your first reaction might be a feeling of physical sickness. It’s important to get over that feeling as quickly as possible and start to put the breaks on the thief’s penetration into your life and livelihood. Here are 10 actions you need to take as quickly as possible:
1. Contact the local police
An official police report will be needed by your bank, insurance company, credit agencies and all other entities that are affected.
2. Call your bank or card provider
Contact all your banks and credit/debit card providers. (It’s a good habit to keep a copy of those numbers in more than one place.)
3. Call the major credit agencies
Check your credit report with Experian, Equifax or CallCredit. Discuss freezing your credit report. If you do that you won’t be able to apply for credit in the short term and you may have to pay to have it unfrozen, but it will stop the thief from applying for credit in your name.
4. Request a free credit report
Once you have filed a credit fraud alert with the credit agencies you are entitled to a free credit report from each one. Get that and check it carefully for any unusual activity. If there is fraudulent use, raise a dispute with each agency. You will need the police report to do this.
5. Inform your tax and social security/national insurance agency
The sooner important ‘agencies’ know about your situation the less likely the identity thief will damage your life and livelihood.
6. Speak to your mobile phone provider
Contact your mobile phone provider to let them know what has happened and then keep a close eye on your usage. If unusual activity shows up on your account let your provider know.
7. Don’t cold shoulder debt collector calls or letters
The thief may quickly run up debt on your accounts, which will lead to you receiving notice from a debt collector. Even though it’s not you that has created the debt, you need to alert a debt collector to the fraud. And don’t ignore a court order or summons, reply to it letting the agency know the situation (with a copy of the police report).
8. Talk to experts on identity theft
Ask your local police or consulate for the contact information of an identity theft expert – it’s often a branch of the police force.
9. Tell other expats
The more people who know about your experience the less likely it will happen to them too.
10. Keep checking your credit report
Identity thieves often wait for the first flurry of checking to die down and then pounce. So, keep going back to your credit report to check for unusual activity.
And, in case you missed it…
In ‘How to cover your identity trail as you move overseas’ I give you my 8 tips to help protect your identity so that a thief doesn’t get hold of it.
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