Having your identity stolen is an extremely externally invasive incident. In the shock, anger, and even self-blame that follow, it's difficult to get yourself organized to get your identity back. Here’s a handy checklist of things to reference in the wake of identity theft.
Make a Report
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the governing body for most forms of identity theft. Once you’ve discovered whatever kind of breach has been made in your security, report it. You can do this online. This makes it a much faster process by avoiding queues and being put on hold.
Even if you have just a suspicion that someone is trying to borrow your identity, you can report it to the FTC here. You can also make a report to your local police department in some cases, such as if someone stole your wallet out of your purse.
Put a Hold on All Your Financial Assets
With the right pieces of information, just about anyone could access your bank account, order thousands of dollars of online products, run up medical bills, or even file your taxes. Whether they steal money you haven’t seen yet, bleed your bank account dry, or put you into debt, they’re going to try to do it fast—which means you have to be fast. Make a list of all your bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial assets. Then call each company to put all your accounts on fraud alert.
Change Your Passwords
You would be surprised what can be found in a person’s email and how easy it is to use it. Once you’ve made reports and have your financial assets under control, start making methodical password changes. Make sure to choose extremely randomized and strong passwords that will be difficult to guess. Opt for a random word or string of numbers and letters that only you will know.
Check for Strange Activity
You can’t report it if you don’t know about it. Check your credit card statements, medical bills—all your balances and any accounts—for anything that looks funny. If your bank account looks lower than it should be and your credit cards look higher, go through your statements to determine which charges are fraudulent. Likewise, medical ID theft can run up a significant amount of debt, so check to make sure all medical care is yours.
Issue New Cards
Just because your cards are still in your wallet doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t have the necessary numbers. While you are reporting activity and getting yourself on fraud alert, request new cards for everything to make sure you are safe.
Depending on the aspect of your identity stolen what you need to do may vary. It may be in your best interests to get a lawyer with training in helping identity theft victims recover. Additionally, the FTC has a much more comprehensive checklist that covers almost every aspect of every different kind of identity theft and how to manage them.