Protecting Your Identity through Grief
I want to start off by letting you know that my wife and I were victims of one of the most extreme and extensive identity theft events. A medical provider we used had a severe breach, which ultimately affected us. This all happened while I was in the midst of grief. Grief is hard enough without the cloud of identity theft.
Can you imagine having your identity stolen while grieving. Compounding grief with identity theft can be extremely overwhelming and disheartening. Not to mention, what do you do when it happens. My experience with identity was very lengthy and time consuming. I had my social security number, driver’s license number, address, date of birth among many other things stolen from me. To compound the situation, I only found out after several bank accounts had been opened in my name. I speak from personal experience and have gone through the proper recovery steps when my identity was stolen. After a lot of research, I found the following government site to be one the best and most thorough resource to cover all of your bases with a roadmap and checklist to boot. The website is Identitytheft.gov. The site is backed by the Federal Trade Commission. I have also highlighted the following tips when creating a plan.
Check the 3 credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, Transunion for any irregularities. The recommendation from identitytheft.gov is to freeze your credit. I chose to put a 7 year alert on the credit bureaus. I defer to your financial advisor for guidance in your situation.
Notify the Federal Trade Commission
Get a PIN number in order to file your tax returns—important so no one steals your tax refund--IRS.gov
Alert ChexSystems—this is the reporting system for bank accounts.
Make a police report
Notify your bank and put extra security steps in place when obtaining information
Notify the banks and or institutions where fraudulent accounts were opened.
Be very careful when giving your personal information online or in person. Also, be mindful of the your children’s personal information.
Be careful when giving others the ability to post pictures of you or your family, especially minor children.
Change all online passwords and institute two factor authentication.
This is not an all encompassing list, but it is a good start.