First and foremost, you should report the crime to police and the appropriate authorities immediately. Contact the local police department and file a criminal complaint. You should request a copy of the report as well. You can use the report to help substantiate the fraud claim with financial institutions or relevant credit companies.
Also, you should report the crime to all three of the credit bureaus. Write down any and all information that can assist you with making the claim. Include the date and time of the call, the names of each and every person that you speak with, and any reference numbers that they may provide. You will need to ensure that your credit reports reflect the identity theft claims.
Once this has occurred and you has seen the new report with the claim, be sure that they implement the heightened security measures. In the future, the credit bureau will seek your permission before allowing an entity to open any new credit accounts. Be sure to check in with the credit bureau periodically to determine if anyone is continuing to try to use your identity and lines of credit under your name.
You will need to document each and every step that they take during this process. It’s best if you have a notebook or file folder dedicated specifically to this issue. You’ll need to include any and all information that you possibly can about the situation. Include names of all the people and companies you contact, as well as any expenses you incur. Make copies of all disputed documents with notes, and keep these copies in your notebook or file. You’ll also need to cancel all of your credit cards, and request that the credit card companies issue you completely new cards.
At this time, discuss the security breach with the credit card company and ask that they implement heightened security measures. Remember to document the time and date of the call as well as the name of the person you spoke to and copies of relevant documents.
Do the same for bank accounts. Close the accounts, and open new ones. Discuss the security breach with the bank, and be sure to ask if they can open a new account that has the same benefits as your existing account (there may be cases where the bank has changed some of their customer features, such as free checking or reimbursed ATM fees). Ask the bank to implement any heightened security measures that they may have for identity theft situations.
Once these new accounts have been opened, create new PINS and passwords for each and every account. Be sure to create unique passwords for each account. If new accounts are not necessary, be sure to at least change the passwords for all accounts.
Also, contact all utility companies (including cell phone providers) to notify them of the theft. Implement security measures for these accounts as well. In many cases, they will implement a password that will be necessary for any interactions with the account.
The Federal Trade Commission is also a great resource. They can assist victims of the crime, and help with the resolution of any financial issues that have resulted from identity theft. Now, this notebook will be full of sensitive information. Keep it under strict lock and key.
Sturdy safes with locks are a great option. The safe should also be stored in a secure and inconspicuous location. A built-in safe would be an ideal situation for this circumstance, but that may not be possible. Nonetheless, a locked safe located in an inconspicuous location may be the best course of action for protecting the notebook.
It would be best to maintain these records for five to seven years, depending on state and federal reporting requirements. Once the time has passed and it is safe to assume the issue has been successfully and completely resolved, you should completely destroy the records through the use of a cross-cut shredder or incinerator.