So your identity has been stolen...

Don't get distracted by the new credit card that was just opened in your name.  The money has been spent and the credit card company will be fine if you report it as fraud right now or in 2 hours, so lock down your own money first!!

  • Get a notepad and pencil.  Make notes on every conversation. 
    • You are about to lose a lot of sleep, your memory is going to be shit in a day or two, so write everything down. 
    • You are also about to change a lot of passwords and you are actually going to make different passwords to each account. 
    • Get names of people you talk to. 
    • You are going to spend a lot of time on hold.  Try to be somewhere where you have multiple phones at your disposal and the internet in front of you.  Ask friends to bring you food and handle everything else in your life.  The faster you move, the less damage, and hopefully the sooner the thief will move on.
    • Just know that only banks and credit card companies are prepared to deal with identity theft.  Any company that is only 25 years old (especially a tech companies), they are not ready for this.
  • First, freeze or put a hold on your bank account(s) and require you go into the branch to unfreeze, and cancel ATM/debit card.  Remove cell phone and bad email addresses from banks.
  • Put a freeze on your credit reports (Equifax, Transunion, Experian), you can probably do this online while freezing bank accounts on the phone
  • Call all credit cards and tell them your identity has been stolen, remove cell and bad email addresses from accounts.  get new cards issued, cancel whatever cards you don't need because its just more to go back and check on daily.
  • Call cell phone carrier and tell them your identity has been stolen, set up verbal passcode; check periodically to make sure you are receiving incoming calls.  The cell phone companies are not structured to handle identity theft, so expect the worst and don’t expect help in store. 
  • Now... Call any new credit cards that have been opened under your name
  • Start a police report, update daily.  The banks, cell phone carrier, and credit cards will want a police report number, so its good to have all the information in there.  
  • Go into banks to set up new accounts and deal with any new fraud issues, move your money, avoid ATM/debit card until you think the fraud has calmed down (the phone customer service has a wide variety of talent).  Take out enough cash for 1 week when you go into the bank.  Find out what you are covered for in case of fraudulent activity.
  • Call
    • DMV make sure no new licenses have been issued
    • post office – mail not being forwarded
    • utility companies – not sure why but the utility companies didn’t sound surprised
    • social security administration & federal trade commission – essentially worthless, but was still on my list

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

  • Freeze your credit (can always unfreeze); prevents new credit cards or loans from being taken out in your name. 
    • Equifax
    • TransUnion
    • Experian
  • Add verbal passcodes to all your accounts for when you call customer service
  • Disable online access to your wireless account; tell carrier you only want to make changes in person and require a photo ID (Verizon never suggested this and I don’t think they could have done it)
  • Remove cell phone numbers and email addresses where you can’t contact someone about resetting password (like GOOGLE) from cell phone, CC, and bank accounts
  • Know how much your bank will cover you in case of fraudulent activity.  Doesn’t help in advance but helps with the stress when its happening.
  • For even more intense tactics, read Hackers Are Hijacking Phone Numbers and Breaking into Email, Bank Accounts: How to Protect Yourself in Forbes, Dec, 2016.