Identity theft: The first things you should do if your identity is stolen

You may think it will never happen to you, but you can't afford to take the chance.

CLEVELAND -- The money lost to identity theft jumps every year. It's the third most reported complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

41 million Americans have had their ID stolen, and once it happens, you're in for a lifetime of looking over your shoulder. Your name, money and credit are now forever at risk.

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But here's what to do if you think you've been a victim.

First, notify your bank or creditor as soon as possible. Most credit cards will cover all the fraud, but debit cards fall under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

If you report a lost or stolen card before purchases are made, you're off the hook for anything afterward.

Consumers have only two business days to report unauthorized charges and there's a $50 deductible. After that, you're eligible for only $500 for the next 60 days.

Next, contact the credit reporting agencies and request a fraud alert. Then, check your reports for any suspicious activity.

Contact the FTC and local police to file an ID theft report. Send that report to creditors, so they'll stop reporting your account activity to the credit agencies. You should also change all passwords and contact your utility companies in case an ID thief tries to use your bill as proof of residence.

Lastly, call the Inspector General if your Social Security number has been used. For your driver’s license, you should get a new one.

Don’t forget to tune in tonight for a live phone bank starting at 5:30 p.m. on WKYC's Facebook page. Then at 6 on our news, we'll have consumer experts helping solve problems.


How to deal with identity theft: