This problem could apply to anyone, anywhere. Recently, a friend of mine who lives in an affluent neighborhood had his mailbox vandalized. After seeing his frustration and confusion about what to do, I felt compelled to talk about what to do when your private information is compromised. Did you know that 8.4 million adults in the U.S. were victims of identity theft in one year? That’s 8.4 million too many if you ask me. So what do you do in this situation? I’ve listed some key things that must be done immediately.
- File a report with your local law enforcement. While waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of the vandalized property. Be as descriptive as possible as to when you noticed the property vandalized and what private information might have been stolen.
- Contact your local Social Security Office.
- Contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commision). Filing a report with the FTC will send an alert to the Federal, State, and local law enforcement. They will in return give you a reference number to refer to in the event you notice any suspicious activity done in your name. Keep this information in a safe place. Their phone number is 1 (877) 438-4338.
- File a fraud alert with the Experian Credit Bureau. This only takes about 60 seconds to fill out but may save you a lot of heartache and pain for years to come. Experian will put out a 90-day fraud alert on your personal information – free of charge. As a convenience to you, they will notify the other national credit agencies, Equifax and TransUnion of your request for an Initial Security Alert. You should receive confirmation form them directly. As an added precaution, they will remove your name from prescreened offer mailing lists for six months. If you feel more comfortable speaking with someone over the phone, you may contact them at 1 (888) 397-3742.
- Contact your bank and credit card companies, ask about any recent suspicious activity, and request that an alert be placed on all accounts.
- Contact your local USPS Office. Request a “Mail Theft and Vandalization Form” and fill out as much information as you can. In addition, you may want to request to pick up your mail only at the post office or purchase a P.O. Box.
I know this may seem taxing, but not taking a proactive role may have lasting consequences. I hope you may never have to use this information — but you know what they say: “It is better to be informed than to not have been informed at all.”
About the Author: Priscilla Walker is the president and CEO of Your Dependable VA, Inc., a virtual assistance company. Your Dependable VA provides professional administrative and social media marketing assistance to small businesses. We offer business support so that business owners can free up their time and energy to focus on running their company without getting burned out. Find Your Dependable VA on Twitter and Facebook Fan Us!