The process of recovering from an identity theft is estimated by the FTC at about six months and 200 hours of work. Most of the workload revolves around making certain you are not held responsible for the debt incurred by the theft.
But first of all, you have to know whether you’ve been victimized in the first place. In many cases, people find out about identity theft long after it occurs. It’s only when you finally get a bill or see a charge you know nothing about; the alarm bells start to go off.
The only practical way that you can get real time inquiry information is to place what are known as “fraud alerts” at all three of the major credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
It is possible to do this yourself, we discussed the process here, or you can hire a company to place and maintain the fraud alerts on your behalf. One way or the other be sure your file is on alert.
The FACT Act of 2003 was designed to approach identity theft proactively, so as to prevent theft rather than clean up after it, in the following way. If you believe you are at risk for identity theft, you may place one of these alerts on your credit files at all three bureaus. LifeLock and Debix have built their businesses around the provisions outlined in the FACT Act.
It is far better advised to understand what options are available to prevent your identity from theft, than to go through the experience. Psychology shows that we are more energetic in trying to recover losses than we are in preventing them. If you doubt that, look at how many personal injury attorneys are in your phone book.
Buck the trend and be just a little proactive. Taking 5 minutes now to get yourself and your loved ones registered could save you a cool 200 hours. It’s easy and inexpensive to obtain identity theft protection and might be the best money you ever spend.