What to Do If You Think You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
The more quickly you notice and report that your identity has been stolen and misused, the less damage is likely to occur. If you think your identity has been stolen, following are immediate first steps to take:
Contact your credit card companies, banks, utility companies, phone companies, etc. to report that someone is wrongly using your account and that you want the account(s) closed. Alert them not to approve any applications to open new accounts in your name.
If there are unauthorized charges on your account(s), notify the company and ask if the company accepts the ID Theft Affidavit or if they will send you their company’s fraud dispute forms to complete.
ATM cards: Cancel a stolen or lost ATM card quickly and request a new card with a new Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Checks: If your checkbook has been stolen, close the account immediately. State laws may protect you if someone forges your signature on checks, but you have to notify the bank quickly that the check was lost or stolen. Also contact the following major check verification companies and alert them that retailers who use their services not accept your checks.
- TeleCheck — 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
- Certegy, Inc. — 1-800-437-5120
- International Check Services — 1-800-631-9656
You can find out if someone has been passing bad checks using your name by calling the check verification company SCAN at 1-800-262-7771.
Contact the three major credit bureaus to report the crime and place a fraud alert on your credit file:
Write: P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Write: P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
A fraud alert lets creditors know that they need to contact you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts. Alerting one credit bureau will automatically report the crime to the other two bureaus. All three bureaus will send copies of your credit report to you free of charge.
Once you receive your reports, review them carefully. Look for any unexplained debts or accounts you didn’t open. Verify that the credit bureau has your correct name, SSN, address(es) and employer. Notify the credit bureau as soon as possible about any inaccuracies or potential fraud.
Contact your local police and file a report. Your creditors may require a copy of the police report to prove the crime.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-869-3557). If you have been turned down for a loan,make sure that the company you have applied for a loan through knows that you have been an identity theft victim and that you have reported the crime. Make sure that the credit bureaus all have the crime noted on your credit report. Obtain and keep a copy of the police report to provide proof of the crime to banks, credit companies, etc. You can also use the FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit to help close any unauthorized accounts and get rid of debts that someone else accrued posing as you.
Keep a close eye on your credit report for the first 1-2 years following the theft incidence to make sure that there is no further suspicious activity.