Scammers have your number! What to do if you’re a victim of identity theft
Can you spot the scam?
The photos below show a text message and a letter, but careful, it’s a trick question.
The text message on the right is part of a phishing scam. Click on the link and the scammers are hoping you’ll hand over your personal information.
But the letter on the left is an actual letter from Verizon. It’s actually a letter sent to WINK News Reporter Morgan Rynor.
The problem, she says, is that she’s not a customer of Verizon. But now, she’s a victim of identity theft.
There’s no doubt scammers have our number.
“It seems like I just get phone calls every day,” said one person we talked to. Another person said it happened to them “about every day, yeah. It’s pretty annoying.”
Another person said they often get messages from numbers they don’t recognize, but they don’t pick up. Someone else said they don’t know how to avoid them.
But what happens when you get a letter like the one sent to Morgan?
It looks legit and says you have a phone line that hasn’t been activated. But, like Morgan, you’re not a customer of the carrier.
She decided to call, only to find out that her social security number and address were used by the bad guys to open up a phone account in her name.
Now, Morgan joins the more than 16.7 million Americans each year who’ve had their identity ripped off.
And now, like many of you, she’s in a race against the clock.
“You’ve got to drop everything and nip this in the bud,” advised identity theft expert, Carrie Kerskie.
Kerskie says as soon as you discover identity theft, you’ve got to close off access as quickly as possible.
That includes notifying the major credit bureaus. And it goes beyond just the three you already know about: Equifax, Transunion and Experian. You also need to notify Innovis and NCTUE for utilities.
So how long does it take to go through the process of reporting this?
So far, Morgan has spent two hours on the issue Thursday.
She called Verizon, then the police, then Verizon again, the police again and then just one credit bureau—and she’s not done yet.
Here’s a brief rundown of steps you can take to clean up this kind of mess:
- Call the company from which you received the notification. Make sure to ask a lot of questions so you have the information you need to make a fraud claim.
- Call your local police department to see if you need to file a report with them or with the office where the fraud happened.
- File a report with the appropriate police department. Tell them you’re a victim of identity theft and provide them with all the information you have.
- An officer assigned to your case will call you back from an unknown number and get all fo the details they need.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here.
- Get in touch with credit companies to have the place a freeze on your account. You will not need to sign up for credit monitoring, but the company will likely offer it.
- Make sure to get confirmation from the company where the fraud originated to make sure they have shut it down.
Here are a few more identity theft resources available to you:
- Recovering from Identity Theft | FTC Consumer Information
- FDACS Consumer Resources Scam and Fraud—Identity Theft
- Identity Theft Resource Center