20+ year of experience
Insurance Defense Lawyers
Personal attention

Strong and Dedicated Lawyers
Eager to Protect our Clients Find out if you have a case Find out if you have a case

5 Important Steps Towards Identity Theft Recovery

When someone accesses your personal or financial information without your consent,and uses that information to buy items, obtain benefits, file taxes or commit other fraudulent behavior, you are a victim of identity theft. Identity thieves are always on the prowl, and while they often set their sights on more vulnerable people, older adults for example, anyone can fall prey to their sneaky, malicious attacks. 

Identity theft can leave victims devastated–they can lose their life savings or find themselves in trouble with creditors for debts they did not incur. However, there are steps victims can take to recover from this terrible violation.

Man looking at identity theft information.

1. Inform Fraud Departments

Once you realize your identity has been stolen, you need to get in touch with the fraud departments of the companies affected. For example, you may get reports from your health insurance company, listing medical treatments or services you never received. Or, you may check your savings account and realize money you never spent is gone. You might notice charges on your credit card for items you never purchased.

Call these companies to alert them to the fraud. This way, they can put immediate protections in place and remove bogus charges. Ask the business to send written communication confirming they have removed those charges, and keep that letter in case the charges show up on a later credit report. 

2. Change Your Security Information

If your identity has been stolen, that means your passwords and PINs have been compromised. Change them immediately. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) emphasizes the importance of using different passwords for different accounts. Using the same security information for all important accounts leaves you particularly vulnerable–if hackers get into one account, they can get into them all.

CISA offers direction on creating strong passwords and, along with other advice, cautions against using passwords “based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed.”

3. Make an Identity Theft Report

Go to IdentityTheft.gov and report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Through the site prompts, you explain what happened, providing a list of charges you did not make or accounts you did not set up. The report tells your creditors which charges resulted from theft and are not yours to pay.

The Identity Theft website also directs you to the three national credit bureaus. Contact them and put fraud alerts on your accounts. Fraud alerts prevent businesses from giving anyone credit in your name unless the business contacts you, making it more difficult for an identity thief to open an account in your name. There is no cost for activating an alert.

Types of fraud alerts described by consumer.gov include:

  • Initial: recommended if you “think” someone has stolen your identity. The alert lasts for a year
  • Extended: recommended if you “know” your identity has been stolen. The alert lasts for seven years
  • Active Duty: For deployed military personnel. The alert lasts for up to one year

4. Request a Free Credit Report

Any of the three national credit bureaus can create your credit report. A credit report provides a summary of your credit history. Along with your name, address, and Social Security Number, the report lists your:

  • Credit cards
  • Loans
  • Debts
  • Bill-payment history (do you pay on time or after the due date)

Review the credit report carefully, looking for any unauthorized activity. To correct the credit report, you will need to send the credit bureaus a copy of your FTC identity theft report and proof of your identity, and explain what report information was generated by the identity theft.

5. Report the Identity Theft to Florida Authorities

Once you have reported the theft to the FTC, report it to FraudFreeFlorida.com. Florida authorities have mounted an aggressive response to identity theft. The anti-fraud campaign is “aimed at better coordinating collective investigative efforts to protect Florida’s large population from fraud and scams.”

The information you provide can help with this coordinated effort to stay ahead of, and reduce, fraud..

You may want to report the theft to your local police department. According to IdentityTheft.gov’s “What to Do Right Away,” you should go to the local precinct with these documents:

  • A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • A bill or mortgage statement or rental agreement proving your address
  • Other proof of theft–for example, credit card statements, bills, medical reports, or IRS notices

Important Reminders

Document the details throughout your identity theft recovery process. Note the actions you take, the companies you contact, and the departments you alert. Write down the names, phone extensions, and email addresses of the people you speak to. IdentityTheft.gov will track your recovery steps once you have created an account, but you should still keep readily accessible notes for yourself.

Use secure methods to keep your new passwords and security information safe. Log out after using a public computer, and do not use public computers or Wi-Fi to access banking, email, or other sensitive accounts.

Do what you can to protect yourself so you do not need to recover from Identity Theft. The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) offers reminders to:

  • Protect documents containing personal information. Insurance or Social Security Cards and government IDs should not be “left around” or within others’ eyesight (over your shoulder, for example)
  • Shred documents containing personal information when you need to dispose of them
  • Take your mail out of your mailbox as soon as possible
  • Avoid giving out your Social Security Number. No financial institution or credit card company will ask for this information over the phone
  • Beware of “phishing” attempts. Do not click on links or attachments sent from unfamiliar email accounts. Even if the account looks familiar, think before you open it. Scammers can make fake accounts look real, so double-check before you take action

Though identity thieves invade your life quietly, they cause tumultuous repercussions. Recovery may be stressful at times, but it is possible. There are plenty of resources, including a Florida identity theft attorney from Sharmin & Sharmin, to guide you through the process and get your life back on track.

Do you have a case?

Find out in 3 easy steps if you have a case.
All fields are required. If you need immediate assistance, do not hesitate to call us at (1-844) 742-7646

*information required