What to do if your identity is stolen

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Recently, our family, collectively, had our identity stolen. Our information was compromised recently during a very large system-wide breach. We were not the only family affected. It affected hundreds of people.

Did you know that in 2015, identity thieves stole $15 billion from consumers in the US?

So here's some things you're going to want to do if it happens to you.

The first thing that you're going to want to know if your credit card is stolen in the United States, according the the Fair Credit Act, your liability is capped at $50. If somebody steals your credit card and heads out onto the town and spends all your money, you're not liable for that beyond $50. Many credit card companies will drop that down to $0 for you.

 Banks operate a little bit differently but according to the Fair Credit Act, you're usually capped at $50 if you report the loss within two days, $0 if you report it before the transactions actually [posted?] in your bank. If you report it within 60 days of it happening, your liability is right around $500. But after that, you're on your own. So keep an eye on your credit card statements and on your bank statements so that you know what's going on.

So what do you do if you're a victim of identity theft?

 The first thing you're going to want to do is put a fraud alert on your credit report. The good news is you only have to report it to one credit agency. You know there are three: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You have to report it to one of those authorities and you should be good.

 When you place the fraud alert on your credit, you are entitled to a free credit report. So they'll send you one. Just ask.

The next thing you're going to want to do is go ahead and contact your bank, your credit card company, your insurance (if it happened to your insurance) or the hospital or whomever is affected by this. You're going to want to go ahead and let that organization or company know about it.

 I would recommend filing a police report. The police can't do anything, but it's good to have a documented report that, "Hey, my ID was stolen." Or if your wallet was stolen. That way you can refer to it later on if things occur down the road.

 If your Social Security Number was part of the breach or the ID theft, you're going to want to call the Social Security office or the IRS because in some cases, thieves will file tax returns. They will claim your tax refund. And you're going to want to go ahead and get a jumpstart on that.

I would recommend signing up for a free credit monitoring service if you can. Of course, there are organizations like LifeLock, and I'm sure there are a few others, that will negotiate and handle these things on your behalf. So you might want to check into those, and if there are some insurance companies that offer that as well.