People have become good at using whatever they can find to get the best out of it. It’s enough for one or two sensitive info to slip through the cracks of your security. The next thing you know, someone emptied your bank account, or you start discovering prescriptions on someone else’s medical record.
Using your data to impersonate you is called an identity theft. It’s one of the most common uses for the data that a hacker collects about you. It’s also one of the worst experiences that many people had to go through.
Obviously, it’s illegal, and doing so might result in different punishments, depending on the country where you’re doing it. So, if you start noticing that someone’s impersonating you, what should you do? What are the best identity theft protection measures you can adopt?
Well, that also depends on where you’re from. Today, however, we’re going to cover how can you stop something like that in:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Identity Theft Protection – How To Protect Your Identity From Getting Stolen
Knowing what to do in case of an identity theft is good, but preventing one is much better. Identity thefts are possible because of the information theft. Basically, nobody can steal your identity if they don’t know things about you.
With that in mind, you need to find a way to prevent them from getting to that info. This includes the protection of all of your devices that have any sort of data on them. So, desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, even smart watches. You need to protect all of those devices.
You can do that in several ways.
For example, take a good, long background check for every app that you download. You never know whether or not it might start spying on you. Also, don’t forget to update your software on regular basis. This is especially important for antivirus and antimalware software.
And lastly, get a VPN as an enhanced identity theft protection.
VPNs are masters of protection. They can encrypt your data, protect it with a secure tunnel, and even assign it to another IP address so that nobody can trace it back to you. With a VPN, you’ll know that your data is as safe as you can make it.
Also, it offers apps for pretty much all of the devices. You can even get a special VPN router so that every device connected to your network will use the web without danger. For those new to the VPN concept, we recommend trying out ExpressVPN, IPVanish, LeVPN, or HideMyAss.
Best VPN For Identity Theft Protection
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What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen In The US?
Most of the time, identity thefts are done because of the money. The thief will try to get your credit card number and they’ll use as much of your money as they can for their own purposes.
Raise A Fraud Alert
The main thing for you to do here is to raise a fraud alert. You should place it on your credit reports and make sure that everyone related to the problem is aware of what’s going on.
That includes contacting the national credit bureaus. There are three of them, and those are:
It’s enough for you to inform one of them of the fact that someone is impersonating you. It’s their duty, by the law, to contact and inform the rest of them too.
The sooner you raise the fraud alert, the less damage the potential thief can cause to you. They might try opening new accounts in your name, The alert will prevent them from doing that, thanks to the quick information sharing.
In case someone tries to open some new account in your name, the businesses will see that the alert is raised. They’ll have to contact you and try to verify if it’s really you who’s opening the account, or is it the imposter. Once raised, this original fraud alert will last around 90 days.
A credit freeze is also a good idea in case of an identity theft. It might cost you a bit, but nothing too much. Expect the cost of doing so to be around $10, but it largely depends on your state. This is one of the more extreme measures for you to take.
Doing so will block anyone from accessing your credit file, including the creditors, or the companies that you’re subscribed to. This is a bit problematic side effect, but it’s the best solution for stopping anyone from spending your money.
Order The Credit Reports
The next thing that you’d want to do is order your credit reports. It never hurts to be sure and to check what’s going on with your accounts. And don’t worry, you have the right to request one report per year by law. Also, if you place a fraud alert, you get an additional report request.
In it, you’ll be able to see which accounts are opened and assigned to your name. If you find something that you don’t recognize, you should contact the businesses in question. Explain the situation, and close the accounts. Also, if you lose a large amount of your money, you might want to try and get a refund.
Make An Identity Theft Report
And of course, the last of the most important actions for you to take is making an identity theft report. This is very important because it will serve as proof that someone stole your identity. You can show it to businesses while you’re requesting the shutdown of “your” accounts.
It’s a good way to prove that your information is being misused and that your identity is compromised. That way you won’t be charged for fraud, and companies will also stop taking your money. Identity theft report will also come in handy if you need to extend the fraud alert, too.
Once your initial 90 days are up, the alert raises. If the situation isn’t handled by then, you’ll need to extend the alert so that your info wouldn’t be misused again. You should print out a copy of an affidavit after submitting your official complaint to the FTC.
Also, it’ll be good to file a police report and get a copy of one of those too. The affidavit is needed for that too. Once you get the copies of these documents, you’ll finally be able to complete your theft report.
Depending on what the thief has done with your stolen data, the rest of the steps are probably different for everyone. The most important thing is to be aware of what has happened and to raise that awareness in others that have dealings with you.
Remember, clearing up this kind of situations and limiting the potential damage as much as possible is your top priority.
What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen In Canada?
Having your identity stolen is always a traumatic experience, and that goes for Canada too. You need to act fast and think what’s the worst thing that someone who has stolen your identity might do to you.
Cancel Your Cards
With that in mind, go and cancel all of your cards immediately. That goes for financial and all the other cards as well. If you don’t, you’ll be to blame for every and any credit damage that you suffer. Most of the time, you’ll be able to get new cards when you’re canceling the old ones.
Pretty much like in the case of the identity theft in America, your next step would be informing Equifax and TransUnion of the situation. National credit reporting bureaus need to be informed of things like this, otherwise, they won’t be able to help.
Fraud Alerts Are Necessary
Ask for placing fraud alerts, as well as for credit reports, so that you’d know what the imposter is up to. What’s different in Canada, as opposed in America, is the fact that you must contact both bureaus yourself. They won’t do it for you. On the other hand, your alert will last for about six years instead of three months.
Once all of that is done, inspect your credit reports, and cancel everything that the thief has opened in your name. Simply explain the situation to all of the businesses, and cancel everything that you don’t want or recognize.
This is what needs to be done urgently, otherwise, you might get in trouble that will take you years to sort out. That’s why you need to do it all as quickly as possible. And after that, contact the police, and file a report.
Report number or a report copy is something that you’ll need in the future, so make sure to get one of those. You might have to use them as proof that your identity was stolen.
When you finish with all of that, you’re back to the phone. At this point, you should contact Canadian Anti-fraud Centre. The center, called CAFC, for short, is collecting all of the info about criminals involved in frauds, and they can help you as much as you can help them.
Their website has an Identity Theft Statement for you to fill out. With it, you can notify the creditors and explain the situation much easier. They’ll need to start their own investigations abut fake debts and charges, and they need to know as soon as possible.
Copies of such reports need to get to as many creditors and companies as possible. Everyone affected by the identity theft needs to familiarize themselves with the situation in order to deal with it.
You need to review, check and control all of your banking reports and credit card statements. Also, make sure that your mail isn’t re-directed. If you think that there’s the slightest possibility of that, contact Canada Post immediately.
And don’t forget to notify your utility providers as well. Everyone who’s connected with you and does any sort of business with you must know of this. This includes the providers of water, phone, gas, electricity, and anything else.
What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen In The UK?
The similar procedure also goes for those who believe that they are victims of identity thefts in the UK. Start by requesting credit reports, and check for unknown expenses. You can get one from any of the UK’s national credit bureaus:
Explain the situation and your suspicions, and then search and point out any of the unknown accounts. Try to shut them down immediately so that the damage would be minimal. In order to access your credit reports in bureaus, you’ll need to sign up and get a free trial account. That’ll cost you around £2.00.
Your next stop is the bank, where you’ll check your credit card activity. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, alert the bank right away, and cancel your credit cards, or at least replace them.
Once you take care of, you’re free to contact the police. You must file a report as soon as you finish with securing your bank account and notifying your credit bureau.
And once again, don’t forget to take a copy of a report or at least its number with you. It’s the proof of your story and you’ll likely need it to revoke some of the fake accounts and orders.
With reports about your credit cards, as well as the one you got from the police, start restoring your identity. Explain the situation to everyone involved, close accounts, cancel orders, and erase debts.
Be quick about it, because time is of the essence. Especially today, with such fast services. Keep notes of what you do, who you speak to and other things like that. It might help to avoid confusion and have proof of your actions.
Also, don’t forget to check in with your post office, since your mail can easily start going elsewhere.
And if you wish, you can always apply to CIFAS. This is the fraud prevention service in the UK, and it’s similar to those from Canada or the US.
What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen In Australia?
If you’re an Australian and you believe that you have a problem with identity theft, go to the police and report the issue. Ask for a copy of a report so that you could deal with potential consequences of the theft as well. Also, proceed to report your situation to the Australia Cyber Crime Online Reporting Network.
There’s also a national identity support service called IDCARE. You can send a support request to them as well. They also support New Zealand, as well as Australia. Any further advice that you might need on how to deal with the situation can come from them.
Other than that, you can contact the banks, credit card companies, government agencies, insurance firms, etc. If they might be affected, you own them a call. Replace any card, and close every unknown account. Revoke all of the unknown purchases, and cancel any pending deliveries.
You can find data about most of these things in your copy of credit report. You can get one from the credit reporting agencies such as:
- Tasmanian Collection Service
- Dun and Bradstreet
- Veda Advantage
Request placing a fraud alert in each of these agencies, so that the word would be spread as quickly as possible. Contact different businesses that the thief might have been at and explain the situation. Also, make sure that your address is still the same.
Victim’s certificate is also something that you can get, but it’s not necessary if you have a police report.
Losing your identity can lead to a lot of problems. You can lose your home, money, and everything you own if someone manages to steal your name.
The best thing to do is to adopt any measure needed to prevent identity theft from happening. The most enhanced identity theft protection is to always get online protected by one of the best VPN services.
Identity theft is a traumatic experience, and if anything like this ever happens to you, you must know what to do.
From the text, you can see that the most important thing to do is to contact the authorities. After that, there’s blocking of your cards and raising awareness that another you is making a mess.
By doing that as soon as possible, you reduce the chances of major damage and increase the chance of catching the thief. File as many reports as you can and ensure yourself.
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