On this blog, we typically offer tips for protecting your identity, helping you maintain your privacy in today’s world. However, despite our best laid plans, it is impossible to completely safeguard your personal information, no matter how diligent you may be. Whether you suspect your identity has been stolen, someone has committed credit fraud in your name or a company has used your personal data without your permission, it’s just as important to know what to do next as it is keeping your personal information safe in the first place.
If your privacy has been violated, there are a number of steps you should take to protect your identity right away.
Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant
The FTC exists in part to protect consumers from unethical companies. If you believe an enterprise has used your personal information inappropriately, the FTC can serve as your advocate.
From the agency’s website, here are a few examples of instances when you should contact the FTC:
- Your personal details show up where you did not expect them to.
- A company knows more about you than you expected, likely by accessing information you believe should be private.
- A company is sending mail or online notifications to your friends in your name without your approval.
If you experience any of the above signs, or notice other indications that a company may be sharing your information without your permission, consider filing a report with the FTC. You can access the agency’s Complaint Assistant here.
The Complaint Assistant can handle a number of other related incidents as well, including popular scams like romance or imposter scams. If your privacy has been violated and you’re unsure where to file your report, this is a great place to start, as it has links to a number of other agencies’ reporting sites as well.
While the FTC handles a number of privacy-related issues through its Complaint Assistant, it has a separate site for reporting instances of identity theft. Consumers who believe they have become victims of ID theft can report the incident at identitytheft.gov. Also run by the FTC, this site walks people through the reporting process, as well as provides a recovery plan to help victims regain their privacy and fight for any funds they may have lost.
If the breach of privacy involves your financial information, or you have other reason to believe your accounts may have been compromised, you should always report the situation to the credit bureaus. Each of the bureaus is required to alert the other two in the event of fraud, so to report the incident you only need to call one company. They will then place a fraud alert on the compromised accounts, which can help prevent ID thieves from opening additional accounts in your name. Fraud alerts last up to 90 days.
In addition to contacting federal authorities, you can also file a report of identity theft with your local police department. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible that shows the theft has taken place so that they can write a detailed report. This report can help you make your case to creditors and other agencies. Be sure to request a copy of the report and make several duplicates.
Of course, in order to report a privacy violation or case of identity theft in the first place, you must be aware that the incident has occurred. credit monitoring companies like Identity Guard can help you detect certain activity that may indicate fraud, giving you a jump start in reporting the crime and limiting future damage. To learn more, contact us today.