Identity Theft Resources
If you are a victim of identity theft, understand that minimizing damage will take patience and a systematic approach. However, the sooner and more aggressively you deal with the problem, the faster you will see results.
To start, commit yourself to becoming and remaining organized. Since you will be communicating with a lot of people and have many tasks to complete, use the action logs to keep track. Keep copies of all forms, file paperwork promptly, and store everything in a safe and accessible place.
Download an Action Step PDF to help keep track of your investigation.
Creditors and Financial Institutions
- If accounts have been used or opened illegally, contact your creditors immediately. Ask for fraudulent transaction documentation. You may use a uniform affidavit form, available on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, as you may need it to file a police report. Add “non-guessable” passwords to replacement cards and all existing accounts.
- If a collection agency attempts to collect on a fraudulent account, explain (in writing) that you are a victim of identity theft and not responsible for the debt. Ask that they confirm in writing that you do not owe the balance and that the account has been closed.
- For checking account fraud, contact your financial institution to place stop payments on any outstanding checks that you did not write. Report the crime to check reporting agencies. Close current checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers and passwords. Monitor all future account statements carefully for evidence of new fraud.
Local and Government Agencies
- Report the crime and file a police report. Request a copy of the report and keep the phone number of your investigator handy. For additional documentation, you may also report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Notify the U.S. Postal Inspection Service if someone has used your address or in other ways committed fraud through the mail.
Credit Reporting Bureaus
- It is very important that your credit report lists only factual information. To know what is being reported, you will need to obtain a credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. If you are married, your spouse should also check his or her report.
- Even if the fraudulent information hasn’t yet appeared on your reports, be proactive and report the crime now. Call any one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you contact will notify the other two, who will then place alerts on their reports as well. If you have proof that identity theft has occurred and you have filed a police report, you may request that the fraud alert be placed for seven years instead of the initial time frame of 90 – 180 days. While fraud alerts are in effect, no new credit should be granted without your explicit approval.
- You may also write a victim’s report – a brief statement describing the details of the crime – and send it to all three bureaus to be added to your reports.
- The first reports with the fraud alert are free and will be sent to you automatically. Check your credit report for accuracy every month for a year, then at least annually after that.
- If you are especially concerned about the possibility of identity theft, you may consider paying for added protection of a monitoring service – but do so only after carefully reading the fine print and weighing the risks against the benefits. Some of these businesses are scams themselves. Research the company’s history and check the Better Business Bureau’s complaint log before signing an agreement.
Each of the three major credit bureaus offers a fee-based credit monitoring service. They typically provide regular credit report updates about fraudulent activity, new inquiries, new accounts, late payments, and sudden changes in your credit card balances. These plans often include a specific number of credit reports being mailed to you automatically or at your request, and access to individualized customer services.
Credit protection is offered by private companies and some financial institutions, and the price and service varies considerably. Most will reimburse victims of identity theft for out-of-pocket expenses (up to a certain dollar amount) and help you through the process of contacting creditors, writing affidavits, and filing reports.
|Credit Reporting Bureaus||Accessing Credit Reports|
|To order a credit report: 800.685.1111
To report fraud call: 888.766.0008
|Equifax Credit Information Services Inc.
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30074
|To order a credit report and report fraud,
P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-2104
|To order a credit report: 800.888.4213
To report fraud call: 800.680.7289
2 Baldwin Pl., P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
|Annual Credit Report Request Service
|To order a credit report: 877.322.8228||Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
|U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC oversees the operation of credit bureaus and
maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law
enforcement agencies for investigations.
|Consumer Reponse Center: 877.ID.THEFT
ID Theft hotline: 877.438.4338
|U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPS)
|Call the U.S. Post Office to obtain the http://www.ftc.gov/idtheftphone
number of the nearest postal inspector: 877.867.2455
|Criminal Investigations Service Center
ATTN: Mail Fraud
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 1250
Chicago, IL 60606