Your Identity? Prove It.
Should you ever become a victim of identity theft, did you know that you will have to prove your own identity in order to dispute the fraudulent activity? When you contact a bank, credit bureau, utility, doctor’s office or any entity where fraudulent activity occurred, they’ll want to make sure of one thing – you are who you say you are. Consider these questions: How prepared are you to provide proof of your name, Social Security number, address history, and other pertinent information? Are your important documents easy to find? Are they current? Having restored thousands of identities, IDShield has seen identity theft victims come up against a variety of challenges to proving identity and residence address. Here are some tips on how to be best prepared for any situation where you are required to provide proof of your identity: Have your Social Security card available and stored in a secure location. If you have lost your Social Security card, get a replacement card now. Don’t wait until you have a pressing need for it. Find instructions at the Social Security Administration’s website—www.ssa.gov. Have two utility bills in your name, if possible. Utility bills are often requested to verify your residence address at a certain period of time. However, your ability to verify residency is hindered if all home utility services are exclusively in a spouse’s or roommate’s name. Why utility bills? It’s most likely that the address at which the utility service is provided is your residence, making it an easy way to verify proof of address. If utility bills in your name are not available, then a property tax statement, mortgage statement, home lease or similar document may suffice as proof of residence. Keep your state-issued identification card or driver’s license (if you have one) up-to-date. If it has expired, get it renewed. If you have a new address because of a recent move, update the address on your driver’s license or state identification. Know your address history. A list of the addresses at which you’ve resided during the last five years is a common request on identity theft affidavits. Be familiar with your credit account data. Tasks common to identity theft victims, such as enrolling in credit report monitoring or requesting a credit report, require identityverification. You will be asked questions based on data found in one or more of your credit files. It is important that you know answers to such questions as the name of the lender for your mortgage or car loan, and the approximate amount of the monthly payments. Pull a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com if you haven’t seen one in a while. Of course, proof of identity goes hand-in-hand with managing all your personal identifiers. Once you have this task squared away, you’ll want to make an inventory of all your important documentation, so you know where they are and how to keep them updated. The following are examples of the types of items you’ll want to keep in a secured and handy place: Driver’s licenses: Keep a copy with your important documents Birth certificates: Do you have one for each family member? Social Security cards: Do you have one for each family member? Passports: Are they still valid? Do you need to renew any family member’s passport? Insurance policies: Health, car, house or renter’s, life, disability, long-term care Will(s) Financial documents: Keep the documents themselves but also inventory the names and contact information for the various financial institutions with which you have relationships, and the type of relationship you have with each—such as mortgage, home equity, checking, savings, money market, CD, credit card, etc. Vehicle titles, property deeds, etc. List of prescriptions/doctors Finally, store these important documents in a protective container (either at home or in a secured location), such as a fire safe or a safety deposit box at your bank. Keep in mind, however, that you will have limited accessibility to the items stored at a bank and you may need access to something in your safety deposit box outside of bank hours. For those items stored at home, notify each adult in the household where these items are stored. These are important documents, so they should be stored in an inconspicuous place, but it should also be easy to access quickly in the event of an emergency. Identity theft can be a difficult and emotionally trying issue to resolve. Fortunately, following steps such as these to put your personal documents in order can make the process of resolving the issues much easier and relieve some anxiety in the process.