It's more common than most people realise and recovering from it can cost time and money. But if you're prepared, know how to react and do so quickly, you can limit the damage done by identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission of the US government recently released a guide for people responding to identity theft. While the guide is aimed at citizens of the USA many of the steps can also be applied by people in other countries to deal with identity theft. The first step of course is securing whatever account or data has been stolen. Try reseting passwords, inform the company or website of the theft. If you have profiles that are linked, disable the link until you're sure that all your accounts are secured.
It's important to continue to monitor your accounts and data for sometime after a theft to make sure that your account is secure again and to find out what if anything the thief has done with your data. This is particularly important if your credit card, paypal or similar accounts details have been compromised. You can't be too cautious and ringing the companies to inform them of a possible fraud isn't a bad idea or excessive. They will be happy to help.
Report it to the Authorities
It's also advisable to report to your local law enforcement or national authority such as the Federal Trade Commission in the USA and Action Fraud in the UK. Your report is important, as it may be a new technique that stole your data or a technique targeting a particular area and the relevant authority can take steps to inform people of the threat. The authorities will advise on next steps to restoring your data security and it's also important for statistics. Only when we have an accurate image of how widespread and what forms data theft take can policies be implemented to effectively respond to them.
The damage repair can take sometime. Credit card companies may have paperwork for you to fill out and you should watch out for emails from accounts that may have been created in your name. It's important to hold onto documents you get from different companies and authorities so you can prove that you were the victim of identity theft.
The best way to avoid data theft is to take proper security precautions. ZenMate is a free easy to use programme that encrypts your browser traffic and hides your IP helping you to stay safe online.