Every year people become the victim of identity theft in some form or fashion. No one wants to think it can happen but with the amount of data we all have it is getting easier for crooks to take advantage of us. In many cases the victims do not realize what has happened until it is very late and they have already lost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The theft may also have totally wrecked their credit score because the thieves run up large bills that they do not pay and the victims are unable to pay as well.

If you do become a victim of identity theft there are a few steps you can take to get yourself back on the right track. The first step is to contact the three major bureaus to find out exactly what is happening.

Credit Bureaus

The three major credit bureaus are:

  • Equifax
  • Transunion
  • Experian

and they are obligated to provide you with a FREE copy of your credit report on an annual basis. In order to get your free report, which does not include the score, you need to go through annualcreditreport.com. This is the only place where you get your report for free every year so make sure you go directly there and not to the bureaus themselves.

When you contact them the first thing you need to do is to ask for a credit freeze to be put on your account.  A credit freeze means that no new credit can be established from that point on until the freeze is lifted. In many states the freeze is free but some states it can cost about $10 to put in place.

Debt Collectors

Many people hate to get calls from debt collectors but this is the one time you really need to take their calls. Debt collectors may alert you to fraudulent accounts that have been opened in your name and this will be a big step in helping you to fix the problem.

Federal Trade Commission

You can also file a report with the  FTC as this will help in your efforts to clear your good name. This may set the base for you to help remove fraudulent charges and accounts that have been posted under your identity.