Identity Theft: 3 Steps to Take if Your Identity is Stolen

I recently read a news article that reported more than 70 million Americans have had their data compromised in one form or another. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported the number of tracked data breaches hit 783 in 2014. Of the total, the highest percentage (42.5%) of breaches were reported in the medical and healthcare industry. Data can also be misused – a Birmingham IRS Special agent was recently indicted on charges he used taxpayer data accessed through investigations to file false income tax returns and obtain refunds.If you suspect an issue take immediate action:

If you suspect an issue take immediate action:

  1. 1. Contact all three credit reporting agencies – get copies of your report and place an initial alert. The alert stays on your account for 90 days and limits extensions of credit without additional authorization.
    a. TransUnion 1-800-680-7289,
    b. Equifax 1-800-525-6285
    c. Experian 1-888-397-3742
  2.  2. Call the police. Many local agencies have an officer or department tasked with investigating ID theft. Creditors may request a copy to research and clear items from your report.
  3.  3. If you receive a notice form the IRS requesting additional information to process your return, contact your accountant. One sure sign is receiving a notice before filing a return. Usually someone filing a fraudulent return will file early. The Treasury Department has a specific identity theft affidavit.

If you make calls, keep a log of who you talked to along with dates, times and notes of the conversation. Maintain copies of all written correspondence.

At a minimum, periodically get copies of your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies and review the reports carefully. Make sure all your personal information is correct. Review accounts carefully and make certain there are no fraudulent accounts and unauthorized credit inquiries. Delinquencies or other suspicious activity can also be a clue.

Even if you’ve never had an issue it’s good to safeguard your information. Once you provide information it’s out there somewhere and impossible to get back.