Upon finding out that your identity has been compromised, it is easy to envision nightmare scenarios that include thieves buying extravagant homes under your name or draining your entire life savings. To help avoid these terrifying consequences, it is imperative that you take swift action immediately upon being alerted to a compromise. Here are some best practices to help lessen the damage associated with a stolen identity.
To contact Equifax, call 1-888-766-0008 or visit https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
To contact Experian, call 1-888-397-3742 or visit https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html
To contact TransUnion, call 1-800-680-7289 or visit https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp
The agency you place a fraud alert with will contact the other two
Report the theft of a Social Security number (SSN) to the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection or call 1-800-908-4490
Reporting the theft of your SSN to the IRS will help prevent criminals from filing tax returns in your name and collecting your tax refund.
Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.idtheft.gov or call 1-877-IDTHEFT.
The Federal Trade Commission offers a good resource on what to do in case of identity theft at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.
File an identity-theft report with your local police, and if you have the phone number (via caller ID) or other information of the criminal who appropriated the SSN, be sure to share it with the authorities.
The police report will help clear your records and your name, and is necessary to have if you want to apply for a new Social Security number.
A new SSN will have a completely blank credit history, so getting credit will be difficult for a few years unless you link it to your old, compromised number.
A new SSN does not mean the identity-theft problem will go away, as the old number will remain valid; you will have to keep monitoring it for future incidents, and government agencies or businesses will still link you to it.
An old SSN never completely goes away, even if it goes dormant, as the Social Security Administration never invalidates an SSN once it has been issued.
While many stolen SSNs are used simply to gain employment, with no detrimental effect to the legitimate holders of the SSN, others may be used to defraud banks, retailers, the IRS, and other government agencies (e.g., unemployment benefits), which could negatively impact your credit rating.
The Office of the Inspector General (Social Security Administration) recommends that you keep records of your correspondence and telephone calls, in addition to “other documents verifying your efforts to correct the problem.”
For more information or to set up a meeting to discuss how Citrin Cooperman can help protect your sensitive information, please reach out to Kevin Ricci.
|Kevin Ricci, MCSE, CISA, CISM, CRISC, QSA