What to do if your Personal Information is Stolen?

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Whether someone is opening new accounts in your name or running up fraudulent charges on your credit card, experts say you need to take action immediately.


LAST YEAR, Someone accessed to more than 145 million people’s personal information during a breach at the credit bureau Equifax. That’s 145 million people who could be in the cross hairs for stolen identities. not even to mention the millions more impacted by breaches in recent years at Target, JP Morgan Chase and Uber.

Whether someone is opening new accounts in your name or in other words when there is running up fraudulent charges on your credit card, experts say you need to take action immediately. “If someone has stolen your identity, they’re working as fast as they can [to use your information] before you realize what’s happened,” says Ted Peters.He is the chairman of the investment firm Blue stone Financial Institutions Fund and former board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Step 1

  • Lock-down the problem account. Unauthorized transactions on a financial account are often the first red flag.
  • Scan credit card and bank statements for other unauthorized charges. Pull up your other accounts and scan old statements for other charges you don’t recognize. Don’t forget to review dormant or infrequently used accounts as well.
  • Review your credit reports for mystery accounts. Your final stop when it comes to assessing whether you’re a victim of credit card fraud or stolen identity is your credit report. Request copies from all three major reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Then look for any accounts you may not recognize.

Step 2

  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Contact your local police department. Hanson says some people run into trouble at this step. “What we’re seeing is that people are running through about,” she explains. For example, a local law enforcement agency might say a report needs to be made in the jurisdiction where the crime took place, if known. In that case, you may be able to file a report over the phone with the police in that location.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service, if offered. 
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Step 3

  • Open new credit cards and financial accounts.
  • Adjust your account settings.
  • Consider a credit freeze.




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