Identity theft isn’t new, it’s been around since the 1800s. Anytime personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud, it is ID theft. The modern era has amplified the ability to commit this type of crime, and now we see frequent attempts to do this, especially during a crisis. Information security has adopted the concept of resilience for secure design, engineering and recovery. How do you make your identity resilient?
Prepare and Protect
To be prepared for the risk of ID theft, USA.gov offers a good list of tips to prevent it. Another approach is to organize things in tiers or buckets of risk. Birth certificate, SSN and similar government documents would be placed in the most risky one, credit card and banking information in the second bucket, primary online accounts in the third, and so on. Adopt protective measures for each bucket as you see fit.
Credit monitoring is another area to highlight, as it’s something everyone should do and it’s never too late to start! Request your free annual credit report and look at it carefully. Make sure accounts you don’t recognize are challenged, closed and removed from your report. If you’re a “Junior” or “III”, watch out for family members’ accounts mistakenly applied to yours.
Report and Recover
Begin by documenting everything, as soon as you become aware of the problem. Start with how your were notified, and keep records such as receipts, invoices, credit and bank statements, as well as logs of calls (date, time, phone number and who you spoke to). Assess the damage and determine if reporting to law enforcement, whether your local police department or the FTC via IdentityTheft.gov, where you can find a good list of recovery steps.
Finish by reporting the issue to the relevant third parties, like your bank, credit card company and credit bureaus. Be prepared to follow up over the course of a few months. Investigations often take 90 days, but it’s more important than ever to put pressure on the criminals committing these types of crimes.