Yesterday my life changed. I was sitting here writing an article and the phone rang and it was my husband. He told me that someone had filed for unemployment using his name and social security number. His employer had received a notice that my husband had filed for unemployment and asked him about it.
I was horrified; visions of all the terrible stories I had heard about identity theft dancing in my head. Since it was too late to go to the unemployment office, there was nothing we could do until the next morning. Of course I immediately started researching what we needed to do. I got out a notebook, so I could keep a record of everything I did. It is very important you do this and write down all phone numbers and names of who you spoke to, and the times.
These are the steps I took:
1. Contact the place where the fraud was perpetrated. My husband went to the unemployment office and talked to them. Unfortunately they had very little information, other than the perpetrator filed online on October 27. They did not give an address, just my husbands name and his social security number.
2. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and order a copy of your credit report from all three agencies. You can order a credit report once a year free of charge. If you would prefer to call, their number is 877-322-8228.
3. Call all three credit reporting agencies and put a 90 day freeze on your credit. This will stop anyone from taking out a loan, opening a credit card, or buying anything large, like a house for 90 days. The phone numbers for each are:
Equifax – 877-576-5734
Experian – 888-397-3742
Trans Union – 800-680-7289
4. Call the police and file a report, you will need this report number for other reports you will be making.
5. Call your mortgage company, car loan company, banks and all credit cards and tell them what has happened. Ask them to put a flag on your account and to contact you if any large purchases or withdrawals are tried. Ask your mortgage company to flag your loan in case anyone tries to take out a second mortgage on your house.
6. Go to IRS.gov and run a search for form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit. Print it out, fill it out and attach a copy of your drivers license, and mail it to the address on the form. This flags your account with the IRS in case someone tries to change your address so they can get your tax return next year.
7. Go to identitytheft.gov and open an account with the Federal Trade Commission. Follow their instructions to notify them of your identity theft, and if you like they will make you a customized recovery plan that you can track on the site as you do what is necessary to protect yourself from these identity thieves.
8. Call your financial advisor, accountant and anyone else that handles your money. Inform them of what has happened. I did this as a precautionary measure, just in case someone tried some funny business with our money or assets.
These were all the things I was able to find online or in my conversations with various people, to do to protect myself. It is important to do all of them, to protect yourself as well as you possibly can. It is a scary thing to know that someone is out there with your husbands social security number. There are so many things they can do to hurt your financially. The only comfort we have is knowing we have done everything we could to stop them. I really is all you can do, at this point.