Victim of Identity Theft?
What to do if you find evidence of Identity Theft or Fraud
If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps as soon as possible, and keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too. If you do not receive a confirmation from a company, you should contact that company directly to place a fraud alert.
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you’re entitled to order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
- Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain.
- Check that information, like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed. Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It’s important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
- When you open new accounts, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
- If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions: Once you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the company, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed accounts and has discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear on your credit report or you are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims’ complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces. This Identity Theft Report can be used to permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report; ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report; prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft; and place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft.
- Call your Homeowners Insurance agent. Your homeowners insurance policy may include coverage for and/or provide services of consumer fraud specialists to help you reclaim your identity and restore your credit. Many companies include expense reimbursement, with no deductible, for travel expenses, Tax ID fraud related costs, lost wages and attorney fees.
The FTC Identity Theft website provides detailed information and resources.