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Dealing With the (Possible) Theft of Your Personal Data

Written by Nickel - 7 Comments

Not long ago, I received a letter stating that my personal data, including at least one old address and my social security number, may have been compromised. Needless to say, this was a bit unnerving. While I have no way of knowing whether or not this information was truly stolen, I have to assume that it was. So, what’s a guy to do?

I started by placing a fraud alert on my credit record. We also placed one on my wife’s credit report just to be on the safe side. Fortunately, all of this happened shortly after the final credit check associated with our refinance, so the fraud report didn’t cause any problems there.

The next logical step would, of course, be to check our credit reports. Unfortunately, while we’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), we used those up last fall when dealing with a wayward collection agency.

The good news is that, having filed a fraud report, we’re entitled to receive free hard copies of our credit reports. Instructions for requesting the free report are included with the confirmation of your fraud alert, which you should receive within a few days of placing the alert. Once that’s done, we just need to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

According to the FTC, the following are signs that your identity may have been stolen:

» accounts you didn’t open and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain

» fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit reports

» failing to receive bills or other mail

» receiving credit cards that you didn’t apply for

» being denied credit, or being offered unfavorable credit terms for no apparent reason

» getting unwarranted calls or letters from debt collectors

Published on March 31st, 2008 - 7 Comments
Filed under: Identity Theft

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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7 Responses to “Dealing With the (Possible) Theft of Your Personal Data”

  1. 1
    FMF Says:

    Who sent you the initial letter? One of the credit bureaus? A credit card issuer?

  2. 2
    Frugal Dad Says:

    Good advice! I used to work fraud cases for a 3rd-party credit card processor (yes, I used to work for the enemy) and it was always sad to deal with identity theft cases. They are costly and time consuming, for both the individuals involved and the creditors.

  3. 3
    lulugal11 Says:

    I got a letter like this from the company that handles my insurance at work. I did the same thing you did and called the bureaus and put the fraud alert on my credit report.

    I got my credit score and credit report from a credit card that had monitoring so I printed a copy of that.

    The good thing is that the alert works because a few days after this I applied for a credit card and I got a call saying there was an alert on my account and they needed to verify that I did want this new card.

    sorry you are going through this as well but at least you acted on it quickly.

  4. 4
    BigBroodGander Says:

    We try to help prevent identity theft by processing our credit card offers and other junk mail plus disposed sensitive records through the guts of redworms ;-)

    It helps the environment too!

  5. 5
    Kyle Says:

    I get letters like this all the time. I’ve pretty much stopped paying attention to them. I think most companies do this just to cover themselves even though the chances of your info actually being stolen are very low.

  6. 6
    Jeff Says:

    I use ID Theft Shield; good piece of mind for $12.95 a month.

  7. 7
    Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    After my identity was stolen, it took years to get everything straightened out. I prosecuted the person, a family member.

    Things have never been the same, but they wouldn’t have been the same if I had just ignored it either.

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