You just got dreaded news you’re a victim of identity theft. What a shock! You can’t believe it. It takes a while to sink in. Can it be true? Who could masquerade as you? What are they doing as you? What damage have they done? The questions just never end! You are awash in various emotions. Now what do you do?
First … who contacted you about the theft? Are they reliable? Do you do business with them in such a way that they might suspect identity theft? In other words, stop and think because you might actually become a victim of a scam instead! Yep, no theft yet … but if you respond to an email … you could about to be! Read more on scams in my blogs here. If you Google “identity theft” you get many results … but concentrate at this point on the Federal and State government official websites.
Okay, it appears to be real. Contact who notified you … NOT by email. In person or in phone. How do they know? You’ll need that information to file a police report.
A consumer resource to help you resolve identity theft.
California Department of Justice (DOJ) – Google your state’s DOJ for identity theft help in your state.
How to minimize your risk of identity theft …
Helpful tips from the FTC about being on guard when you are online (so you may avoid all of the above as best you can).
Are you at risk (before the unthinkable happens)? Here’s a free analytics site so you may check your risk and take appropriate actions to reduce your risks.
Few people think of this … but your tax preparer gets all kinds of handy information that may also be used for identity theft. You may go to California’s Tax Education Council’s website to verify your tax preparer (are they legitimate? … look for helpful information links on the side panel navigation bar once on the site … especially the “Verify a Tax Preparer” link).
There are just so many ways of being scammed and many things stolen from you these days. The above resources may be a start to help if you have been a victim. They may also help you avoid becoming a victim.
Non-government website links are not endorsed by me … they are merely provided as possible additional resources. Consider carefully what you do with any website before you enroll in a program, send money or provide personal information. Most legitimate websites on this topic provide services free of charge and don’t need personal information to help you.
See also IRS Scams.
PS. I also read an interesting article which I can’t find a link to … however, the point that jumped out was that most people fret about their data being compromised on some server somewhere. Those servers are getting harder for a common thief to crack; and more sophisticated criminals are after bigger fish … so they, the common thief, are going after the softer target … YOU! You are the vulnerability thieves seek to exploit and it happens very easily when you fall for a scam of some sort and simply hand the thief the information they are looking for.