What You Need to Do if You're a Victim of Identity Theft

You just received a copy of your credit card statement, and you're browsing over the details. You then notice something strange. A recent purchase has been made on your credit card. It’s been weeks since you’ve used that card, so you’re sure you didn’t make that purchase. Before you panic, double-check first your bill. If you don’t recognise that payment, and you’re 100% sure that you didn’t buy anything using that credit card, then it’s an unauthorised transaction. And this can only mean one of two things: you have forgotten a purchase or potentially your identity has been stolen.

Identity theft can happen in many ways and to absolutely anyone. From unauthorised credit card payments to loan applications submitted under your name, identity theft can come in many forms. If someone else is pretending to be you to steal your money or get other benefits, then you’re a victim. Fortunately, it’s not the end of the world if this happens to you. Here’s what you need to do if you’ve confirmed that you’re a victim of identity theft.

Double-check your bank statements
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Because someone gained access to your private information, double-check all your bank statements and see if you have other unauthorised transactions. If not, contact the bank or issuer of the compromised credit card. Put a block on your account or cancel the card so it won’t be used for any further purchases.

Change passwords

To prevent further damage, change all your passwords for emails and online bank accounts. It is recommended by most banks and credit card firms that you change your logins at least every 90 days. Identity thieves are smart and can easily access unprotected files online by hacking security systems, and even use skimming devices. When changing passwords, make sure you don’t just follow the minimum requirements. Think of passwords that won’t be easily figured out by thieves--don’t just use password123 or anything that’s very basic. Use complicated combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. Then you either memorize it or write it down somewhere where it won’t be easily accessed.

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Get a copy of your credit report

To check if someone else applied for a loan using your name, get an updated copy of your Veda credit report. Any loan application made using your information will appear on your credit file. While getting a copy of your credit report, you can also contact credit reporting agencies and see what you can do to prevent fake loan accounts from being opened under your name. This is usually done by placing a credit ban for a period of time. The default 21-day ban period can be extended if you need more time or protection.

File a police report

You also need to file a police report so the authorities are informed about the crime. This will also help authorities begin a formal investigation and track down the culprit/s. Head to your local police station and ask what requirements you have to provide in order to file an official report. This also helps if, as it turns out, you’re not the only victim. By giving authorities proper information on a crime, you’re helping them solve the crime faster and apprehend the culprit.
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Contact relevant banks and government agencies

Contact companies that have made unauthorised enquiries on your credit report, and ask them about doing an investigation. Once they’ve finished investigating your case, they can implement appropriate actions to prevent further access to your credit information. If the thieves were able to access your personal information, contact the issuers of your IDs such as driver’s license, passport, Medicare, etc., and let them know about your situation. This way, they can place an alert if someone tries to use your IDs for suspicious purposes.

When dealing with identity theft, it’s best if you have someone who can help you keep your calm and contact the appropriate agencies. It can be stressful and time consuming, but once you’ve sorted things out, it’s easier to get back on your feet. Keep in mind that when using your cards or when submitting online applications, keep your information secure and trust only reputable financial websites.