Have you lost your wallet? You will need to cancel your credit cards and get a new drivers license, but it may be more involved. You should take steps to protect your identity too. Here is our overview of the options you need to consider…
Put Fraud Alert on Your Reports
A fraud alert is a message on your credit report notifying potential creditors that your personal information may be used fraudulently, and requests them to contact you by phone prior to extending new credit. An initial fraud alert will remain in place for 90 days, and can be canceled anytime. You may place a fraud alert on all three reports by calling just one of the three bureaus as they are required to contact the other two. You may also initiate your fraud alert online at the bureaus websites. Once the 90 day period is past, you may place an extended fraud alert on your report which will last for seven years, if you feel that your identity is still at risk.
Consider a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze is a more dramatic step you can take to insure that no new accounts are opened in your name. Once a credit freeze is active potential creditors will not be able to access your report. There are exceptions which allow a variety of pre-authorized parties to view your reports. This includes your current creditors who have the right to review your credit, collectors that work for current and past creditors, and companies that offer pre-screened credit. You may lift a credit freeze if you wish to apply for new credit. Unlike fraud alerts, which are available to anyone, credit freeze laws vary from state to state and may not be available in your state. In many cases there are fees associated with placing and lifting a credit freeze. If you are uncertain, ask a credit repair professional for assistance.
Get a Free Credit Report
Once you have placed initiated a fraud alert or credit freeze you may access each of your credit reports one time for free. In the case of an extended seven year fraud alert you may access your reports two times for free within the first year of placing the alert. Keep in mind that everyone has the right to access their reports one time per year for free at annualcreditreport.com. This is a federal law intended to facilitate the identification and repair of credit reporting errors. Instances related to the implementation of a fraud alert or credit freeze do not count against your right to your free annual reports.
Credit monitoring is a fantastic high-tech tool which can add an extra layer of protection and comfort for anyone whose identity may have been compromised. It is also nice for anyone in a credit repair program wishing to track changes in their reports. Credit monitoring is offered by all three credit bureaus for a small monthly fee. At the time of this writing the cost is under fifteen dollars per month. Once enrolled, you will receive an email whenever there is a credit inquiry or any material change in your credit reports. You will also get unlimited access to your reports. Each bureau has an option that provides you with monitoring from all three bureaus simultaneously.
Social Security Card Replacement
If you have lost your Social Security Card you can get a replacement at no cost. You may get up to three replacement cards per year and up to ten in your lifetime. Just go to your local Social Security Administration office with personal identification and proof of citizenship, such as your birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, or passport, and you will receive a new card in approximately two weeks. You will also get a Social Security Number Certification letter on the spot which can be used in place of a card while you wait.
The Social Security Administration does not get involved in resolving identity theft issues, but if you inform the Social Security Administration that your Social Security number may have been used by another person, they will review your earnings to make sure no one else is using your identification for work purposes.
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