A Real-Life Lesson on Protecting your Identity

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By Delta Jones

Recently, one of my clients shared the unfortunate news that she had been the victim of vehicle vandalism and theft. Her purse was stolen along with her laptop and a few other valuable items. When I inquired if she was alright, she replied in a calm voice that all would be well because she had learned from Atled Financial what to do if her financial information were ever to be compromised.

My client offered to share all of the steps she took to protect herself in hopes of helping others in case they ever fall victim to having personal information stolen.

  1. Call the police and file a report. It will vary on the circumstance as to whether law enforcement will come to the scene. If not, go to the nearest police station and file a formal report of the crime. Try to list everything you can remember that was taken and list if any identification-related items including driver’s license, credit cards, insurance cards, etc. Obtain a copy of the police report. It will be needed for your insurance claim.
  2. Deactivate all debit and credit cards. Call your financial institutions and credit card companies to deactivate your cards. As for client, she had the apps uploaded on her phone and was able to deactivate her debit and credit cards right away. Still call in to make sure that every account is protected.
  3. File a claim with your insurance company. Call your insurance company to report theft and damage to your vehicle, residence, etc. Share the comprehensive list of all items stolen or damaged along with estimated values. Keep any receipts for any items or services purchased out-of-pocket related to the claim. You will need these in order to be reimbursed.
  4. Contact the credit reporting agencies. If your license and other person information have been taken, chances are identity theft is on the horizon. By calling one of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax) you can have a fraud alert placed on your account for to a year. If someone tries to open a new account using your information, additional information will be requested, and you will be alerted to verify that it is indeed you trying to open the account.
  5. Alert your employer, social security and other pertinent contacts of the theft. Let the Human Resources department at your place of work know that your identity has been compromised. This goes for any other entities including your 401K provider, social security, etc. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your identity.
  6. Regularly check your account activity over the next 6 months. Log on regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions on your accounts. This helps you stay on top of whether someone is still trying to assume your identity. If you notice any unusual activity, contact your financial institutions right away.

Identity theft can happen to anyone! Make sure that you have extra copies of everything that you carry in your wallet. That way, if anything should happen, you can easily account for what information has been compromised. Everybody be safe out there!

At Atled Financial, we are always looking for ways to improve your bottom-line. To schedule a complimentary consultation or a presentation to your group or organization, call 219-513-3710 or email djwalker@atledfinancial.com and mention this column. Topic ideas for this column are welcome!

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