Identity fraud happens quickly and almost always without warning. It can take months to recover from normal circumstances, so knowing what is needed to speed up the process is key.

If your identity has been stolen and your financial life is seriously affected, here are five steps to counteract the event.

(*5*)The long-term effects of identity theft

Identity theft is not an instant event that is forgotten after a few months. Instead, its impact can last for months or even years and cast a long shadow over your life.

Identity theft has a psychological side, which can wreak havoc and leave you feeling at odds with everything you once took for granted. Being victimized by criminals in this way can cause feelings of anxiety and violation. Sleep may also be affected: The Identity Theft Resource Center found that sleep disorders affect 41% of identity theft victims.

Fears for financial security, feelings of helplessness, and suicidal feelings also occur among victims of identity theft.

Of course, identity theft also has a financial impact on victims. You will almost certainly find yourself penniless for a while. Borrowing from family and friends, selling assets to cover the costs of identity theft, and even taking out payday loans rarely make you feel better. Conversely, the added stress of borrowing can lead to additional psychological stress.

It can also result in physical illness. Victims of identity theft have reported everything from shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations to fatigue, muscle aches, and even pain (from the loss of financial security, confidence, and aspirations).

An Identity Theft Recovery Timeline

Identity theft can rarely be quickly recovered. Much depends on the type of robbery you have experienced.

  • Credit card fraud: the time it takes you to discover and report the scam is the time you have to wait in most cases. If you regularly check your credit card statements or have alerts on your account, it shouldn't exceed one month. After that, the credit card companies will cover the stolen credit.
  • Complete identity theft: with accounts opened in your name, it can take months to recover. It takes time to dispute fraudulent bank accounts, loans, and other identity theft. Proof that you have not set up accounts is required. When a tax debt is also incurred, as in some cases, or other crimes are committed in your name, repairing the damage can take years.

Unless you are very lucky and catch the phishing early, you will likely spend at least a year gathering the effects of the phishing.

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Sapann Design)

How to recover from identity theft

So how can you recover from identity theft and minimize the psychological impact?

1. Contact the anti-fraud services of the accounts in question

Once the fraud is discovered and it is clear that your identity has been stolen, you must report the fraud. Talk to the fraud departments of the banks and credit card companies involved. If the scam was car financing or other financing, talk to them as well.

You must also register the theft with the local police department. All of these things must be done within a day of discovering the fraud.

2. Review your account statements and records

You need to know everything about your financial activity during the time (and some time before) of the fraud. This means thoroughly reviewing your account statements and financial records. Also request account statements that were not sent to you.

Try to cover everything from banks, loan and credit card companies to online stores, PayPal accounts and everything.

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Detail your movements during the fraud period

When it becomes clear that fraud has occurred, you must take steps to record your activities and prove that you did not spend the money. Although fraud is common, it is unfortunately still important for victims to prove their innocence.

Use Google Maps to keep track of your activities. For example, look up old receipts to check where you were, maybe check your employer details to show you were at work when you took out a loan at a bank branch.

4. Get legal advice from an identity theft specialist

It is advisable to contact an attorney with as much supporting data as possible. Legal advice is essential at this stage, as your bank will be interested in you as part of their fraud investigation.

However, don't just call the usual family attorney. Instead, find someone familiar with the issues of identity theft and subsequent fraud. They will be able to deal with their bank and any federal contacts, which will help reduce personal stress.

5. Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)

Free help is available from the ITRC (opens in a new tab), which can tell you just about everything you need to know about identity theft. They offer a help desk and detailed steps on what you can do in case of identity fraud. In addition, you'll find information on various scams, which can help you identify exactly what caused your ID card to be stolen.

Meanwhile, the site also hosts various resources, facts, figures, and a regular newsletter.

Are you affected by identity theft in the UK? Contact the Action Fraud team- opens in a new tab.

Prevent future identity theft

You have overcome identity theft. You probably don't want to go through all that again. To prevent a repeat of the months-long recovery of your identity, finances, and possibly even your sanity and health, take steps to protect your accounts.

Stop clicking links in unsolicited emails from your bank, loan company, PayPal, Facebook, you name it. Instead, learn how to spot fake emails, change your passwords, use stronger security measures (two-factor authentication, where a code is sent to your phone or email when you try to connect to an online bank account, for example) and stay alert. risks. Know and understand how it happened the first time to reduce the risk of repetition.

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