Loss of your personal identity is a stressful, nerve-wracking experience. Whether you’ve suffered an online breach or lost your wallet, you should take some immediate steps to protect yourself. Once you’ve taken action, consider preventing future attacks with an online monitoring service.
1. Call Your Bank
Get in touch with your financial institution to alert them to the theft. They can cancel your debit and credit cards and put flags on your account for any potential suspicious activity. If you take this step early enough, you may not be responsible for any fraudulent financial activity.
Contact the DMV if your driver’s license was stolen and the federal authorities if you lost your social security number card. The IRS has specific steps you should take if you suspect theft of your tax-related information. The Federal Trade Commission has an online form to report identity theft and to get further assistance.
2. Post a Fraud Alert
One of the risks of identity theft is someone setting up credit accounts in your name. If you place a fraud alert with a credit reporting agency, anyone reviewing a new credit request made in your name will get an alert that your identity may have been hacked. Requestors then have to take extra steps to make sure you are the person who’s trying to open up a new account.
3. Consider a Credit Freeze
A step up from a fraud alert, a credit freeze means no one can access your credit report. The reporting agencies will not release the file to anyone who asks for it. You can request a credit freeze at any time and can unlock it with a PIN.
4. Place a HIPAA Alert
Healthcare institutions have to take great care to maintain patient privacy. If you fear that the loss of your personal identity may have compromised your medical records, contact your healthcare institution and ask to speak with the individual responsible for ensuring compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which applies to patient privacy rights.
5. Get a Monitoring Service
Once you have overcome the damage done by identity theft, look into a commercial product that may give you an added layer of protection for the future. LifeLock and TrustedID are two examples of services that actively search for threats to your identity protection and give you options to stop them. Also consider protecting your personal computer with software like Norton Security.
Thankfully, there are many procedures already in place to help you take back control of your online and offline identity after a breach. Stay informed about future threats and continue to monitor your records of personal information for any signs of theft.