Identity theft: What to do

More than 17 million Americans are victims of identity theft every year. If you discover that your identity has been stolen, don’t panic. Here are the next steps you should take:


Tell your immediate friends and family about the identity theft so that they can warn you if something suspicious comes to them from you. However, avoid posting on social media networks. The problem is that as soon as someone knows that you are a victim of identity theft, they can search online for that information, and that will make you even more vulnerable.

Fraud alert

Notify one of the three main credit bureaus of the identity theft and place a fraud alert on your credit file. The agency you inform will notify the other two immediately. The primary reason to issue a fraud alert is to force businesses to confirm your identity before extending credit in your name.

Credit freeze

If you believe that your assets might be in danger. You can place a credit freeze on your accounts by informing all the credit agencies. Doing so will make it even more difficult for thieves to open lines of credit in your name. You can still get credit even with a freeze.

Credit report

Lastly, ask for credit reports from each of the three agencies so you can assess the damage to your credit rating. Once you have this information, you can go about restoring your credit. Part of this process involves contacting the fraud departments of any business that reported a fraudulent transaction in your name.