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Blog > Identity Theft > How Long Does it Take to Fix Identity Theft?
 February 21, 2022

How Long Does it Take to Fix Identity Theft?

Man talking on the phone in his home office

Identity theft can take up to 18 months to resolve on your own.

The most recent statistics are alarming. 23 million people, or about 9% of U.S. residents over 16, have been identity theft victims. For 90% of them, the most recent incident involved the misuse, or attempted misuse, of an existing account, like a credit card or bank account.1

When identity theft happens, it can take up to hundreds of work hours over a year and a half to undo the effects.

Restoring your identity may involve:

    • Discovering theft in the first place – 1 week – 6+ years2
    • Filing reports with authorities – 1-2 days hours3
    • Requesting reports from the 3 major credit bureaus –  1 – 2 days4
    • Requesting a fraud alert –  1 day to contact 1 of 3 bureaus5
    • Reviewing credit reports – 1 week to 6+ months to review pertinent credit card information6
    • Removing fraudulent activity from credit history – 1 – 6+  months7
    • Resolving social security “blended identity” cases – 1-2 years8
    • Total possible time – 6-18+ months

How to resolve identity theft

There are 3 major steps to resolve the theft and get your identity back:

1. Call credit bureaus

The first step is to call the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) and request a fraud alert.

This helps stop thieves from opening an account in your name. There are several different types of fraud alerts: initial fraud alert; extended fraud alert; and an active duty alert.

2. Review Credit reports

You need to review all your credit reports to identify where fraudulent activity may have occurred. After you find out, you should personally contact all the companies where the fraud happened and point out the fraudulent accounts. Finally, you should create an Identity Theft Report at

3. File theft report

You must file the  Identity Theft Report with the government at This is an official statement reporting fraud and / or identity theft to law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission. Essentially, it’s the only way to get your complaint officially on record and get the ball rolling toward a solution, and takes the place of a police report.

How long will it take to restore my identity?

Depending on your case, As stated above, restoring your identity can take up to 18 months and in extreme cases, sometimes more.

How long it all of this will take comes down to several factors:

Length of theft

How long did the theft go without you noticing it? The longer it goes without being noticed, the longer it can take to fix.

The earlier a theft is identified, the faster the process for identity restoration.

Fraudulent activity

How, exactly, did the thief use your personal data? For example, if a data breach placed your personal info onto the dark web, it could be repeatedly sold and co-opted for fraudulent purposes.

Credit theft and medical identity theft cases can take much longer to resolve.

Method of restoration

Are you trying to restore your identity yourself? If excessive activity was performed under your identity over a long period of time, that will increase the time needed for full restoration.

If you’re going it alone, it will likely take you a lot longer to fix than if you’re using an expert identity theft protection service, like IDShield.

How long can identity theft effects last?

An identity can be stolen and used for months, and in some cases, years. There are five types of ID theft that can be especially time-consuming.

Child identity theft

Because kids often don’t have credit reports, this type of ID theft can go undetected for years, and thus take years to untangle.

Government identity theft

Faked ID’s can lead to criminal charges and even arrests in your name. Resolving this type of ID theft can stretch for years.

Medical identity theft

Medical identity theft can compromise your health insurance and affect your personal health records. This can be a tangled web to fix.

Income tax-related identity theft

IRS investigations can take six months to settle…or more.

Employment-based identity theft

When someone uses your Social Security Number in order to work, it creates a “blended identity.” For obvious reasons, this can take years to undo.

Some cases of identity theft can be resolved in a matter of days, but many cases can take months or even years. It’s so important to do everything you can to prevent it from happening. Why? It doesn’t just take a financial toll on you, it also affects you emotionally. Three-quarters of victims who spent six months or more fixing financial or credit problems reported emotional distress.9

Protect yourself from identity theft

Vital information links to you and your reputation. Monitoring yourself is next to impossible, so let the experts do it instead. IDShield is here to protect you and your family by monitoring your personal and financial info 24/7. We alert you about potential fraudulent activity and help restore your identity when problems arise.



2 Pages 18-19

3 Our team estimates that filling out the reporting as shown by the government website could take 1-2 days to find and submit the documentation and necessary supporting information needed

4 We estimate that filing a report with each of the 3 credit bureaus could take 1-2 days. In some cases, it may take less time


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IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.


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