All too many people will wake up one day and find that there is a sudden and unexplained charge on their credit card statement. Upon closer inspection, they may find multiple charges that have been overlooked for days or weeks in between the most recent and previous statements. Hundreds of thousands of people are victims of identity theft every single year – sometimes, it manifests in small forms and sometimes it is a massive drain on our finances, time and credit. If you believe that you have suffered from identity theft and want to ensure that your credit is not further impaired, then please continue reading to find out how you can freeze your credit profile in the wake of an identity theft.
It’s Hard to Prevent Identity Theft
In the past, identity theft often occurred only when a thief was able to steal your purse or wallet, break into your home and sift through financial documents or otherwise could grab hold of physical information. While proper document storage is still important, many thieves gain information through online and intangible outlets that are not under your jurisdiction. These examples include banks, credit card companies and merchants, mortgage companies and doctors’ offices. You may even unknowingly give a thief your credit card information when you use an ATM that has been equipped with a skimmer. In many cases, identity theft is not your fault and all possible precautions taken may not be enough to prevent it.
Report Any Issues
If a credit card has been used without your authorization – even if it remains in your possession – then you must report the issue to your card company as soon as possible. Most companies will work with you to ensure that these charges are erased from your statement, but only if you notify the company within a certain time frame. Likewise, any missing amounts from your bank account must be reported to the bank and/or card issuer as soon as possible to prevent a permanent loss of finances. While these issues may be fixable, the real work begins below as you deal with any actual credit damage caused by would-be thieves.
Notify Credit Bureaus
There is a relatively simple process that anyone can use to put a freeze on your credit, prevent any malicious charges from being applied and prevent any new lines of credit from being issued. This freeze in credit can be obtained by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Each request for a credit freeze costs approximately $10, but will ensure that no further damage occurs on your credit reports. In addition to this, a credit freeze can also be a good way to control impulsive spending, as any new requests for credit during this time will be denied.