How to Recover from Stolen Credit/Debit Card Numbers
Every week on the news it’s inevitable that we hear about identity theft or a renowned bank that has been hacked putting its members at risk after their database of credit card or debit card numbers might have been compromised. If you ever find yourself in this situation, there are some key steps to take to start the process to further protect yourself.
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
- Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too.
- Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
- Upon receipt of your report, review it carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed.
- Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies of supporting documents. It's important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
- When you open new accounts, use new PINs and passwords, something not easily available like your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number.
- If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions.
3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338), or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
- The printed FTC ID Theft Complaint, in conjunction with the police report, can constitute an Identity Theft Report and entitle you to certain protections.
4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
- Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft.� � Ask them if you can file the report in person. If you cannot, ask if you can file a report over the Internet or telephone.
- When you go to your local police department to file your report, bring a printed copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint form, your cover letter, and any supporting documentation.
- Ask the officer to attach or incorporate the ID Theft Complaint into their police report. Tell them that you need a copy of the Identity Theft Report to dispute the fraudulent accounts and debts created by the identity thief.
by Staff Writer