What To Do If You
Are A Victim Of Identity Theft
1. Panic. Get it out of your system. Run around yelling `I've
been ruined' for five minutes. You'll feel better. (People who say `Don't panic'
aren't there, aren't real and have probably never had something awful happen to
them.) Then sit down and decide that things could be worse (you could have just
had a letter from the hospital telling you that you have twenty minutes to
live), that you are going to deal with this and that, if at all possible, you
are going to fry the bastard who did it to you. Alternatively, pack a suitcase,
change your name and go abroad.
2. Be prepared to spend some time
recovering your identity. The authorities estimate that, on average, it takes
300 hours of hard work to repair the damage done by an identity theft. So put
aside everything you can. This is going to take over your life for a while. But,
again, learning to walk again after an accident can take a lot of time, so keep
things in perspective.
3. Establish all the facts. Contact all three
credit reporting agencies to find the extent of the damage.
4. From now
on make notes of every phone call you make and every conversation you have. Keep
copies of all the letters you write.
5. Report the crime to the police.
Get a lawyer. Actually, do these two things the other way round. Don't give the
police (or anyone else) original copies of your documentation. Give them copies.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, visit your local Citizens Advice
6. Contact all the financial institutions with whom you do
business. Tell them what has happened.
7. Cancel any credit cards which
might be compromised and change any bank account numbers which might be at risk.
Close any fake accounts which have been opened in your name.
8. If any
professional ID has been compromised get cards and passwords changed. If your
passport, driving licence or national insurance card has been stolen you must
tell the relevant authorities. They will doubtless get back to you when they
have had their tea and come back from holiday. To make sure that you can prove
when you told them something write to them and post your letters by recorded
delivery. Keep the recorded delivery slip as proof of your posting. Better
still, get your lawyer to write to them.
9. Gather together all your own
10. Start a file dealing with the problem. (You should keep this
for at least ten years after it's all over. If problems recur you will be glad
you had it.)
11. Keep details of all the costs you incur. If you get a
chance you may be able to sue the thief when you catch him.
that under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 you have a legal right to have incorrect
information on your credit file corrected.
13. Go to your local police
station to find out if any crimes have been committed in your name. Ask for
details of any information held about you. (You are entitled to this under the
Data Protection Act.)
Taken from How To Protect And Preserve Your
Freedom, Identity And Privacy by Vernon Coleman, published by Blue Books and
available from the webshop on this site and from all good bookshops everywhere.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007