(Editor's Note: This is the second in a three-part series on avoiding financial fraud of all types. Check out Part I here, and check out Part III here.)
If the crooks get you, what do you do?
Report the incident immediately to get records established indicating a crime was committed. Time is critical to get ahead of the crooks.
In cases of suspected identity theft, report it to the police. Not that anything can be done to fix the problem, but it starts a record of the incident. This will come in handy down the line when it becomes difficult to distinguish between you and the scammers.
[RELATED: New Survey Shows Which Military Members Get Scammed the Most]
Call all your financial institutions. Cancel credit cards. Stop transactions on accounts. The crooks will go for the easy money in savings and investments. They will charge on your credit cards but these have limits and protections. That’s why debit cards are a greater threat to you than credit cards.
Contact Social Security.
Call your health/Medicare program and insurance companies. Once personal information is stolen, any of your accounts can be tapped and used against you.
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your driver’s license will be modified by the crooks and used as their own identification.
Contact the credit reporting agencies: Experian, Trans Union, Equifax. Freeze your accounts.
Contact the business you suspect was the leak behind the theft.
Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 and the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Response Center at 1-877-382-4357.
Change your passwords pronto. The crooks will change them to keep you from accessing your own accounts.
Tell all your friends and family since your information will be used to get to them. Spread the word far and wide.
Stay vigilant. Be prepared to attack back with shock and awe.