It is important, if one's identity has been stolen, to remain calm and to immediately take steps for identity theft recovery. This can be a lengthy and difficult process, but it is necessary to get started the instant one realizes that one's identity has been stolen. With diligence, identity theft recovery can help restore credit and help to prevent it from happening in the future, though in many cases it is difficult to catch the thief, meaning it can be difficult to recover lost funds.
The first step to identity theft recovery is to obtain copies of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus, which will be able to illustrate any fraudulent accounts that have been opened illegally. Next, immediately place a fraud alert or a credit freeze on the report. A credit freeze means that no one can take out any credit in your name, but keep in mind that this includes you. A fraud alert will simply require a more lengthy approval process to receive credit.
Then, begin by contacting the banks or creditors who issued credit to the identity thief, and close those accounts. If any of your personal accounts have been compromised, close those as well. Some identity thieves do not open new credit cards or checking accounts, but simply make use of the ones that are already open. Then, contact all creditors and banks, even those that were not part of the identity theft, and alert them to what has happened. It may be necessary to open new accounts; it is a good idea to password-protect all new accounts.
Another tip for identity theft recovery is to change all online passwords for all online accounts to alphanumeric passwords that cannot be guessed. It will also be necessary to file a police report stating the details of the identity theft. In addition, it is important to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as well as the Social Security Administration and the local post office to file complaints at each location. Then, begin contacting credit bureaus to start removing negative information from the reports. Make sure all household bills are still coming to the correct address.
The identity theft recovery process may take longer if debt collectors are calling. Do not give them any information regarding checking accounts or credit cards, and document each instance when they call, as well as clearly explaining the situation. In some instances of identity theft, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer. These are just some basic identity theft recovery tips; a lawyer will be able to provide extensively detailed information regarding criminal charges, as well as how to deal with credit bureaus and debt collectors.