Are You A Victim Of Identity Theft? It’s Time To Take Action. Following a data breach where your personal information might have been exposed, it’s important to closely monitor your financial and credit accounts on a regular basis, and to check your credit report for suspicious activity that could indicate identity theft. Identity theft occurs when stolen data is actually used by crooks to make purchases or withdraw money in your name, or when the information is used to apply for loans or services. As soon as you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you need to take quick, focused action and you need to keep track of the steps you take. The Federal Trade Commission offers a comprehensive list of recommendations covering a variety of situations at IdentityTheft.gov. The site even includes sample letters you can use to meet your needs when contacting businesses and credit bureaus. Here are some important steps recommended by the FTC: - Call any company where you know fraud happened. Tell them you’re a victim of identity theft. Change passwords and PINs. - Place a fraud alert at one of the three credit bureaus. That bureau is supposed to tell the others. A fraud alert makes it harder for crooks to open accounts in your name. - File a report at IdentityTheft.gov, and provide as much detail as possible. This report will be an important part of the recovery process. - Review your credit reports, which can be accessed for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Note any unrecognizable accounts or transactions. - Ask businesses to close any account opened in your name and have them confirm that to you in writing. - Ask that false charges be removed from your accounts. - Write each of the three credit bureaus and ask them to correct your credit report. Recovering from identity theft can be a painful process, but by following the FTC recommendations and keeping close records of the steps you’ve taken and who you have contacted can help you work your way back to normal.