Identity theft is a harrowing experience. You’ve not only lost control over sensitive information, but identity thieves can wreck havoc on your personal finances. Fortunately, there are laws that can help you minimize your losses. You may also be entitled to financial compensation from an identity thief, as well as any businesses or institutions whose negligence contributed to the theft.

It is important, however, to act quickly and notify credit bureaus and financial institutions when you notice suspicious activity on your accounts or credit reports. Prompt action can ensure that you won’t have any financial obligations as a result of identity theft.

Contact Financial Institutions

As soon as you are made aware of identity theft, or that you are at risk of identity theft, contact all of your financial institutions. This includes your bank as well as credit and debit card companies. Inform them of the identity theft and begin to monitor all of your accounts for unauthorized charges. When you spot unauthorized charges or withdrawals, contact our financial institutions and ask them to reverse the charges.

Check and Monitor Your Credit Reports

Federal law requires credit bureaus to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. However, you can request additional reports during that time if you believe that they contain inaccurate information as a result of fraud.

You can also ask credit bureaus to place a security flag on your reports so that identity thieves cannot open new accounts in your name. Monitor your reports for any new accounts and notify the credit bureaus if erroneous information appears. Federal law requires credit bureaus to investigate all reports of fraud and to remove errors from your report.

Consider a Lawsuit

If you are losses are significant, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit against the identity thief, as well as negligent institutions. You may be able to take the identity thief to court and receive compensation for your financial losses. In addition, you can sue a bank or business that handled your private information incorrectly, enabling the identity thief in the process. Talk to an attorney about your options.