How long does it take to resolve identity theft?

How long does it take to resolve identity theft?
Image source: Getty Images

While there are things you can do to protect your identity and reduce your risk of exposure to identity theft, it is almost impossible to be 100% safe. So, if you are a victim of identity theft, how much time will it take you to resolve the case?

Let’s find out. 

How could identity theft affect you?

Identity theft can affect you in different ways depending on the nature of the incident. If, for example, someone opens a credit card account using your details or takes out a loan and doesn’t make payments, you may not only find yourself being asked to pay a debt you did not incur but your credit score might be negatively affected too.

An identity thief could also use your information to access your bank account and withdraw money, leaving you cash-strapped. 

The effects of identity theft can not only be financial but also emotional. Victims often report feeling anxious, violated and generally unsafe. The emotional toll of identity theft can be just as serious as the financial one.

How much time does identity theft take to resolve?

The time it takes to resolve a case of identity theft varies. Usually, it depends on the severity of the crime as well as the circumstances.

If, for example, someone gets hold of your credit card details and uses your card but does not access more sensitive information, there might only be a few days between you calling the credit card company to cancel the card and receiving a new one.

On the other hand, however, it can take a longer time to resolve more serious cases of identity theft. If someone takes out a loan in your name or opens any form of credit account and takes out cash or goods, it can take weeks or even months of working with the company, the police and credit reference agencies to dispute the transactions and prove that they were not made by you.

For example, a victim had two mobile phone accounts taken out in his name that were used to purchase several electronic goods on credit. The accounts were still open and the credit applications still on his credit report six weeks after reporting the incident.

For this young woman, the time it took to resolve her identity theft was also long. It took her six months to reclaim her identity after it was taken by thieves who then used it to take out a payday loan and open a bank account.

However, it might not always take that long to resolve identity theft. Usually, getting the police involved can help get things get done faster.

This mum had a credit account opened in her name and £3,000 worth of goods ordered. She was able to close the account, have the charges wiped and the references removed from her credit report just few weeks after reporting the incident to the police.

What can you do to resolve identity theft quickly?

The key to resolving identity theft quickly is to act fast. Most of the burden for resolving identity theft lies with you. As a result, you have to be willing to put in sufficient time and effort to clear your name.

The first step is to immediately call the three major credit reference agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and request a fraud alert. This directs all potential creditors to contact you first to verify any credit applications. Doing so can help prevent the opening of additional accounts by the identity thief using your details.

At the same time, obtain a copy of your credit report from the three agencies. Review it carefully. If you note any fraudulent activity, request that the agencies remove them from your credit report. 

After this, contact all institutions and companies where your name has been used fraudulently. Explain that you are an identity theft victim and request the closure of the accounts opened using your name.

The next step is to report the incident to Action Fraud, which is the UK’s national fraud reporting service. This report can come in handy. It can support your case when corresponding with credit companies, banks and credit reference agencies in the future.

When dealing with the authorities and financial institutions, it is a good idea to keep a record of all names, conversations, dates and telephone numbers so that you can access them easily whenever you need to.

Final word

Trying to resolve identity theft can be frustrating, as many victims can attest. It is, however, in your best interests to resolve the situation. If you continue doing everything to stay on top of the process, you can succeed in resolving the case and get your life back to normal.

Still have questions?

If you didn’t find everything you were looking for on this page, we have other ways to help:

Was this article helpful?

Some offers on MyWalletHero are from our partners — it’s how we make money and keep this site going. But does that impact our ratings? Nope. Our commitment is to you. If a product isn’t any good, our rating will reflect that, or we won’t list it at all. Also, while we aim to feature the best products available, we do not review every product on the market. Learn more here. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdown, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group, Mastercard, and Tesco.