What To Do Before and After Identity Theft

If you’re not familiar with the term, identity theft is when another individual has gained access to your personal information and is able to use it to their benefit. It could be them being able to spend your money, use your identification to access personal information, or land you in legal trouble through their own actions.

It’s a difficult situation to deal with, and it’s important that you understand what you can do to prevent it, and what you should do if you find yourself a victim of identity theft.

How to Protect Your Identity From Theft

Victims of identity theft often aren’t aware of the causes and methods that these frauds use, and it can leave them open to theft. However, there are measures you can put in place for this situation to be avoided and prevented.

Identity thieves often use the following methods to get your information:

  • Phishing
  • Pharming
  • Malicious software
  • Skimming
  • Social media imposters

Be Aware of Scam Calls

A common way that these thieves get ahold of personal information is through phone scams. Phone scams can come in many different disguises, and they are often after either your personal information or easy money.

A scammer might call with shocking news, claiming that you’re in legal trouble, or that you’re owed a large amount of money. Understand that these calls are often, if not always, a scam, and should be ignored at all times. Scammers will call numbers at random with the same lines, hoping to catch someone who is unaware.

Do not give out your personal information over the phone unless you have called a person or business knowing they are legitimate.

Keep Secure Passwords

With the development of many online services, there’s more sensitive information being stored on the internet than ever before. eCommerce sites and social media store very personal information that you should protect at all costs.

It’s because of this that you need to make sure that your passwords are very safe and not easy to guess or break into. Typically websites will enforce a secure password, but know that you can make it even more complicated and harder to guess.

Cancel Lost Cards

We all drop things from time to time, and it’s not unheard of for people to misplace their credit or debit cards when they’re out and about. If this does happen to you, you should act quickly.

The information on a card can be used to purchase things in stores and online, so you should deactivate your First County Bank debit card via our online banking or through our mobile app, as soon as possible. Losing your card doesn’t always mean fraud, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and have it replaced.

If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

If you are under the suspicion that your identity has already been stolen or is at risk of being stolen, then you need to make sure you act fast to prevent damages. It wouldn’t take a fraud or identity thief long to cause trouble, so the faster you address it, the better

File a Claim

The first thing you should do is alert your bank that you suspect there to be identity theft going on. Letting your bank know that your accounts or information are in danger allows them to take action and help minimize the damage, as they can keep an eye on your accounts for any kind of suspicious activity after you’ve made the claim.

If you have identity theft protection insurance, then you should make sure to file a claim with them too. They can help you try to recover or compensate for the damages that have been done at the hands of the thief.

Some of our checking accounts, MyChoice Checking and ValueAccess Checking with BaZing, include identity theft protection as well.

Contact Credit Bureaus

There are three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) that work with creditors and lenders to help them make important lending decisions. They are also where you can find your credit reports and score, which are helpful for finding cases of identity theft.

If you notice your credit score decrease dramatically out of nowhere or see something off on your credit report, you can be a victim of identity theft.

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, there are two things you can do. First, you can have each of them freeze your credit file, as a security freeze will block new lenders from requesting your credit file to process new credit applications.

You can also set up a fraud alert so lenders are aware ‌of fraudulent activity regarding your information, and they must take more steps to verify your identification before they approve an application. Standard one-year and seven-year extended fraud alerts are offered. The latter is for those who have verified they are victims of identity theft.

Reach Out Where It Counts

It’s not just your bank and insurance company that you should reach out to. You should inform anyone who can provide personal and sensitive information regarding things like payment details, social security numbers, and so on.

You don’t want your personal information to get out, nor do you want accounts opened in your name. Any service in which you’re signed up could be storing important information that an identity thief could use to further their fraudulent activities.

Sometimes individuals find out about identity theft after receiving a bill to their address stating that they owe money, or that they’ve been signed up for a service that they’ve never heard of. If this is the case, you should contact said company immediately after verifying the legitimacy of your evidence. You don’t want to fall for a phishing scam, which some letters or emails could be.

File an Official Report

When your identity is at risk, it’s important to have evidence of everything that’s going on and to be able to show that you were actively trying to recover it. If your case ever has to go to court, or requires legal intervention, having official records of it will be very helpful.

To get these, you should inform your local police department of what’s going on, and make sure you get a copy of the report for yourself.

If you have this document, and your information was used to tie you to a crime, you then have evidence that will show that you’ve already filed a claim for identity theft. The last thing you need is to suffer legal consequences in the midst of all of this.

You can also report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and receive a recovery plan. This official report would be useful as well when proving that you have taken action upon notice of a case of identity theft.

Freeze Your Accounts

If it’s your financial information that’s being accessed, your bank accounts can empty quickly. If the individual is using your credit information for daily purchases, you should have some time to freeze your accounts at the bank.

However, it’s much better than losing your money to someone with your stolen identity!