If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, there are steps you can take immediately to protect your account and your credit from further damage.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends following the steps:
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Fraud alerts help prevent an identity thief from opening accounts in your name. Contact 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.
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. 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.
Contact the security or fraud department of each company. 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); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
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.
- 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. If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incident" report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police. You also can check with your state Attorney General's office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft.
For detailed information on these FTC recommendations and additional instructions on how to take action, please visit the FTC Identity Theft web site: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/repairing-identity-theft
Other resources helpful in responding to cases of identity theft:
Social Security Administration
The SSA Office of the Inspector General investigates reports of identity theft. If you know or suspect your Social Security number was involved in identity theft against you, notify the SSA at:
Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General
Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline
US Postal Inspection Service
The USPIS is the law enforcement unit of the US Postal Service. They investigate reports of identity theft that specifically involve stolen or mishandled mail.
US Postal Inspection Service