When It Rains It Pours…(7 Things to Do When Someone Steals Your Identity)

 

what to do when someone steals your identity You know that old wives’ tale about bad things happening in 3’s and 7’s? Well…as though of you who read regularly know, it hasn’t been my year. At all. On top of everything else going on, (uhm…here, here, and here…) I got a call from Wells Fargo last Wednesday notifying me that someone had stolen my SSN, also knew my address and was attempting to take out a credit card/loan.

Awesome.

So in the spirit of using what’s happening in my life more, I’m revitalizing my “Ask L.Bee” segment with a question I’ve always wanted to know the answer to, but never needed until now. (I used to get lots of questions, but if you feel like writing, just reach out and email and you could see your question up on the blog!)

I don’t know how this happened since I haven’t had my wallet stolen or anything, but I do have my suspicions. Thankfully, it seems as if we “caught it early” and got out ahead of it, but here are the steps to take in case you yourself find yourself the victim of identity theft.

1.) Cancel all of your cards

All of the credit cards may be affected, better safe than sorry. While you’re on the phone with the credit card companies, set up a two-step verification, that way in case anyone dials in attempting to be you, they’ll have to give a password in order to access your account.

2.) Change all the passwords to your online accounts

3.) Place an alert on your credit report immediately. 

You can report it to Experian via this link and they will also notify Transunion and Equifax. You’ll place an alert and leave your phone number so anytime someone tries to take out a loan or do something requiring a credit check, you’ll get a phone call.

If you do it yourself, they expire in 90 days, so make a calendar reminder in 90 days time to go back and set the fraud alert again.

4.) Check Your Credit Report Too

While you’re there, go ahead and either order a copy of your credit report (you get one for free, from all three bureaus, once each year.) Or you can download online and print, although you won’t be able to access again for free until the next year. Check for any odd or suspicious activity, and check ALL OF THEM. Sometimes things show up on one report that do not on another (which happened in my case.) Once/if you find something move to number 5.

5.)  Write a letter (ASAP) to get fraudulent activity off your report 

For this one you’ll have to write to each credit bureau separately since each one reports differently/different activity. You’ll need to mail a letter stating the charge is fraudulent, and mail them a copy of your ID and a utility bill or bank/insurance statement. Hopefully, this will do the trick, but it could take a few weeks.

6.) Put yourself on the opt-out list

It is happening less and less, but people do still receive pre-approved credit offers in the mail. Put yourself on the opt-out list by going here, filling out the form and then mailing it. I suspect my identity may have been stolen because someone has been tampering with my mail.

7.) Get a shredder

In case you keep getting these offers, shred em, and shred any old documents with your social. Identity theft is a largely digital crime, but you NEVER know. It could literally happen anywhere.

Bonus points: invest in on-going credit monitoring. I’m normally pretty good about keeping a check on my score (via Credit Karma) every month. It’s not fool-proof, but in case someone does get an account/card open in your name, you’ll be able to spot it. You can also pay per month for Life Lock, or some other company to track your credit for you.

Extra Bonus Points: In the event it’s been a minute and someone has stolen your identity and had some activity (not attempted to access your accounts, but actually charged or opened a loan account or something) you will have to file a police report.

Any other tips I’m missing?


  • http://indebtedmom.com Kirsten @ Indebtedmom

    Oh my heart, how scary! This is totally my worst nightmare and yet I’m not very proactive about checking my credit report. I kinda hide my head in the sand because I have my own problems (which is a totally backwards excuse). You’ve inspired me to check my reports this week!

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      Ah! Yay! Glad you’re taking action.

  • http://shopmyclosetproject.com Michele

    I’ve always heard about bad things coming in three’s not seven’s…but, that may explain some things. I am so happy that you were contacted so quickly. I had someone try to purchase hundreds of dollars of items on my debit card during a trip to Breckenridge. But, the purchases were so obviously not mine that they triggered a fraud alert. Now, I obsessively use cash when I go out for dinners, etc. I’ve gotten a little paranoid about it.

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      It’s easy to be proactive, but not so easy to fix. :(

  • http://www.makingsenseofcents.com Michelle

    I check all of my accounts and credit report all the time. I had someone buy a HOUSE in my name when I was just 13 years old, so because of that I’ve been forced to watch out for the rest of my life now.

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      Well…you win. Geez! How scary! I’d be interested in hearing the story of how you found out that happened.

  • http://www.cashvilleskyline.com Addison @ Cashville Skyline

    So sorry that you’re had to deal with that Lauren! Michelle’s comment about someone buying a house in her name at the age of 13 is downright scary. It sounds like you’re taking the right steps to get this resolved as quickly as possible. Sending positive thoughts your way!

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      Thanks Addison!

  • http://brokemillennial.com/ Broke Millennial

    I’m sorry you have to deal with this Lauren. This is a great resource though. I had a minor freak out that my identity had been stolen last month because two cards had issues with fraud within a week of each other and that seemed just too odd of a coincidence.

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      Yes. Thankfully most credit/banking companies invest a lot of money in fraud prevention, so it’s (somewhat) easier to catch these days than in the past. Wells Fargo has the phone number the person used to access my account flagged for potential fraud on other accounts, so I’m very grateful for the early notice.

  • http://uniquegifter.com Anne @ Unique Gifter

    Oh my gosh, talk about adding insult to injury! I believe it is the PoPs who have had repeated issues with identify theft? They (if it’s them!) have some great resources for helping with this stuff.
    Try to think of it as your life is just so awesome that someone wants to be you ;-)

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      Ha. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it does make me smile!

  • http://www.hasslefreesavings.com Kendal @HassleFreeSaver

    I’m just gonna say it — the Universe needs to back up off L. Bee. This is ridic! You’re handling it with poise and turning it into a teachable moment for the rest of us. Do me a favor and have a margarita tonight? Virtual toast from across the country — here’s to you, lady!

    • http://lbeeandthemoneytree.com/l-bee-and-the-money-tree/ Lauren Bowling

      I have pretty much been pounding wine at night for the last three weeks. It does help. Thanks Kendal <3

  • http://www.LisaVsTheLoans.com Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans

    I’m so sorry this happened to you! This is definitely one of my nightmares. I’m saving this post just in case it happens to me or anyone I know.

  • http://fitnpoor.com Michelle

    I have been guilty of just throwing away card offers in the mail without shredding them. i think that will be my next guilt-free purchase.

  • http://morethanjustmoney.com Kassandra

    Wow really sorry you’re having to go through this! I had my identity stolen several years ago and it took a couple years to clean up the damage they did as they actually opened a bank account in my name and committed fraud. Good suggestions that you listed.