I am a Victim of Identity Theft. What Should I Do?

Q: I went into my bank account this morning to discover that $1,500 was taken from my account and wired to the Philippines  through a money transfer company called Xoom.

I have already filed an affidavit with my bank to research and get my money back.

What surprised me was that my bank allowed the money transfer and I only had $400 in my account at the time.

I’m upset that the bank allowed this to happen and they are not providing a sufficient explanation to me as to why they allowed it.

Someone suggested that I file a police report; get in touch with the banking commission; and report to the 3 credit reporting agencies.

Should I do this?

A: Wow, what a shocking situation. Sorry you have to go through this!

I too am surprised that the bank allowed the transfer — especially if you only had $400 in your account!

Here’s what to do:

Yes, by all means file a police report. This was, in fact a financial crime, and you need to have some documentation — starting immediately — to prove that you have taken the appropriate steps and that you did not authorize this transaction in any way.

You also never know if this was an isolated incident. If someone had your checking account and/or bank routing information, what else might they have? Your social security number? Access to other sensitive financial data? Hopefully, this was some one-time scam and not part of a broader incident involving identity theft. But as I said, you never know.

So at this point, I would say pull your credit reports immediately (You can get them free of charge at annualcreditreport.com). While you are online, you can notify the credit bureaus that you were, or you suspect that you may have been the victim of identity theft. That also qualifies you for free credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

When you review your credit reports, look closely to see if there are any new “inquiries” or applications for credit. If so, and if you didn’t authorize them, this will be a dead giveaway that someone is misusing your credit and personal information.

Read: The Difference Between Equifax, Experian and TransUnion Credit Reports

If you find anything suspicious on your credit reports, put a credit alert or a credit freeze on your credit reports immediately. A credit freeze will “lock down” your credit and prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts and causing further damage.

Unfortunately, identity theft is a bear of a problem and often takes months, if not years, to resolve. Hopefully, you won’t be victimized by this problem. But if so, taking the steps I’ve mentioned above should help minimize your hassles. Later, you may also decide to sign up for a credit monitoring service to track your credit over time.

Have you been a victim of identity theft? Share your story here.

What is Xoom?  Xoom is an online international money transfer service.

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