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Monday, June 26, 2006

Dealing With Identity Theft

The number of cases of identity theft has increased dramatically in the last few years. If you ask around, you probably know one or two people who've been victims (as an example, both the Unknown Brother-In-Law and the Unknown Son's Oncologist have been victims).

If you talk to someone who's been a victim, they'll tell you that repairing the damage can be frustrating and time consuming. The Consumerist has a good guide to what to do if you're a victim. Here's some of their points (except for the last one, which is my addition):
  1. First off, read everything on the FTC's identity theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ -- they've got a lot of great information there.
  2. Get your credit reports (all three) and read them carefully (line by line).
  3. Others will invariably have advice for you and some judgemental comments (i.e. "this is what happens when you bank online"). Expect them, and don't let them get to you.
  4. Be disciplined-- spend some time each day working on it until it's cleaned up (expect to spend about 100 hours in all)
  5. Fill out a police report, and keep copies to send to credit bureaus, collection agencies, etc...
  6. Be organized. Keep a separate file for each creditor.
  7. Write down time, date, phone #, contact information, and a synopsis of EVERY conversation you have with someone.
  8. Contact each credit reporting agency and dispute each and every charge. Put a statement of identity theft on each credit report.
  9. Follow through relentlessly.
  10. NEVER throw away your files. These things can come back to bite your butt years later.
  11. Given all the paperwork you'll have to do (and all the records you'll need, you might want to invest in a small photocopier.
Read the whole thing here.

HT: Sound Money Tips

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