Steps to Take to Recover From Theft of Social Security Number

The key to recovering from identity theft is to act quickly and lock your personal information down. If handled well, identity theft can be limited to frustration and lost time.

Several months ago, I made the mistake of taking my wallet out in a restaurant, and though I didn't know it at the time, I left it on the table. Two days later, when I still couldn't find it, I realized that I had probably left it at the restaurant and it had been stolen. Unhappily, I had recently sought employment, and that meant my Social Security card was still in the wallet from the interview. Later that night, I logged onto my banking website and found that over 200 dollars had been debited from my bank account for a purchase from a WalMart whose store number I did not recognize (I found out later that a female treated herself to an Ipod with my card). Thus, in one go, a thief got my driver's license, Social Security card, military I.D., debit card, $110 cash, and would have gotten my bank account number if I had not pulled it out the previous day.

Immediately upon discovering this, I made the calls to the police and bank and cancelled my card. The police in the town in which the theft occurred told me that I needed to file a report with my hometown police department, so I did. The policeman from my hometown came, took a statement, and told me I needed to go to the department at which the event occurred. By now frustrated, I asked if he was sure, because I was already getting the run around. When he replied that this was the way things are done, I called the first police department back and got the same statement. Never one to be shamed twice, I replied that I had made enough phone calls and that the issue needed to be resolved here.

When reporting theft and fraud, the first thing to do is to report it to the police as soon as possible. At the same time, you should also be cancelling your cards, because I have been informed that even if someone tries to swipe your card and it doesn't work, the card's information can still be retrieved electronically. Thus, the thief can still possibly be tracked.

Next, file a police report. Call the town P.D. in which your property was taken from you first, and assert that you will be filing a report with that department (don't let them send you somewhere else; you are where you need to be). Additionally, if use of your personal information occurred in a different town, you also need to file a report there. Luckily, the town in which the thief used my card was only a couple miles away.

If your account or Social Security information was stolen, you need to take further steps. For account info and debit/credit cards, you need to go to your bank and file a report (they will have some claim forms to fill out). If your Social Security card was stolen, you must react quickly. If you do, you will prevent anything from happening to your identity or credit. To place additional security on your Social Security number, simply go to Experian's Security Alert site and request an alert. TransUnion offers a similar service, but an alert placed at one service will be sent to the other credit agencies as well. Basically, if someone who isn't you tries to act like you and buy a house, this security alert will require phone verification and visual identification before allowing such a transaction to occur.

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