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Identity Theft—What to do?

Many of my clients have been the victims of identity theft. Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise and it is extremely hard to recover from being a victim of it. The consequences of being a victim of identity theft can linger for years after the actual theft. Earlier this week, I appeared on KWTX Channel 10 News to talk about actions victims of identity theft need to take. While I do not have the video, I thought I would share some thoughts on my blog.

Signs you might be the victim of identity theft:

  • Actual theft;

  • Unauthorized withdrawals and checks from your bank accounts;

  • Bills collectors calling you for overdue debt you never incurred;

  • Inaccuracies on your credit report;

  • Medical insurance company denying claims for benefits because you have met your benefits for the year;

  • You fail to receive your regular bills in the mail each month;

  • Your social security benefits summary shows income from jobs you never had;

  • Mail about an apartment you never rented, a house you never bought, or a job you never held;

  • You attempt to get a mortgage or car loan and learn about problems in your credit report.

Anyone can be the victim of identity theft. If you are a victim or suspect you are a victim, you need to act quickly to help protect yourself.


Steps to take as soon as you suspect you might be the victim of identity theft:

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports

 A fraud alert will help stop new credit from being opened in your name. Contact each of the three credit agencies below to place a fraud alert and request a free copy of your credit report. An initial fraud alert is only good for 90 days, so you want to mark your calendar to call back before 90 days expire to extend the fraud alert for 7 years.

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013


  • Close the accounts you know, or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

 Call and speak with someone in the fraud department for each company (banks, credit cards, etc.) . You will want to follow up your phone call with a letter to the company. You want to make sure to keep a copy of all letters you send and send them by certified mail, return receipt for your protection. If the company has a fraud dispute form, you want to use their form to dispute any fraudulent charges.

 You want to make sure you remember everyone. If your checks were stolen, call your bank. If your driver's license was stolen, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. If your social security card was stolen, call the Social Security Administration. Call all credit card companies and report the cards as stolen.

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

 You can visit the Federal Trade Commission's website, www.ftc.gov, and fill out a FTC ID Theft Complaint. You can print this form and take it with you when you report the theft to local police in the next step. You can also contact the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT.

  • File a report with your local police.

Make sure to file a written report in person if possible. Bring a printed copy of the FTC ID Theft form form the previous step. Keep a copy of your police report for your records.

Identity theft is a crime that hurts everyone and is difficult to stop. If you would like more information about identity theft, I encourage you to visit the Federal Trade Commission's website.

If you are drowning in debt, please call the Kehl Law Firm, PC at 254-633-2876 to make a free, no-obligation consultation to learn what your options are. Let my family help yous.


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