By Sun Jung • May 27, 2014
The phone rings and a smooth, reassuring voice starts asking questions regarding your bank account because you won a free trip to Chacachacare. Do not give out any information even if it’s Morgan Freeman’s voice, because you’re about to become a victim of fraud. And if you did win the trip, Chacachacare is one of the most deserted islands in the world – it is disappointingly not as fun as it sounds.
Identity theft can come in many disguises including phone calls, wallet pick pocketing, fake accounts, etc. Dealing with it requires making tons of phone calls and irritating your ears with that hold music. Take the right precautions and measures to avoid it. Adopt a vigilant hawk-eye when it comes to protecting passwords, social security numbers, credit cards, and PINs. Stop flinging that wallet in public places and hang up those weird calls.
How to Deal with Identity Theft
But even the most careful individuals can be oblivious of theft if they do not check their credit reports regularly. Use free online sources to get full, detailed information on any financial transactions under your name. Credit Sesame gives you free credit monitoring and score reports in addition to a free $50K identity theft insurance. Another great alternative is Credit Karma. It generates a free credit score for you and gives personal advice based on your status. See any off-beat purchases on wigs and shades? That’s your conman trying to mask himself further.
To those who just stumbled on fraud, here is a simple summary of the steps you must take:
1. Call the credit card company first and report the fraud.
2. Ask for an initial fraud alert to one of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). An initial fraud alert makes future creditors take additional steps to verify your identity before opening any new accounts – it’s a double protection.
3. Place a complaint to the trade commission plus report it to the police.
Some people may even consider canceling accounts; however, your score record can suffer from this. What company representatives will recommend is to change the account number. But if it does not sound appealing either, you can request cancellation AND ask the company to place a 100-word statement on your score report outlining the incident.
Additionally, consider getting some aid from professionals. CreditRepair.com is an agency of experts that helps you handle various issues including identity theft, unauthorized inquiries, and charge offs. They will guide you from beginning to end, so you can breeze through the paperwork. Take $50 off when you sign up with a friend.
After this topsy-turvy process is over, you may consider applying to other credit cards if you chose to cancel the former ones. CreditCards.com can assist in finding the card that suits you the best by facilitating the searching, comparing, and applying processes. They have all the information you need on interests, rewards, protection, and payment plans.
While nobody wants to face this disaster, everybody should be prepared for it. Act attentively and take all the necessary legal measures to prevent this from happening again.
Sun Jung Sun Jung is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California majoring in English Literature. Born in South Korea, she was raised in Guadalajara, Mexico for seventeen years before coming to LA for college.