Help, I'm a Victim
The unthinkable happens, you realize your identity has been stolen, but what do you do next? Here's a step-by step plan of actions to take in the event your identity is stolen.
Step 1: Place Fraud Alerts
It is important for victims of identity theft to act fast. Fraud alerts can help prevent an ID thief from opening any more accounts in your name.
To place an alert, you only need to contact one of the three consumer reporting agencies. Once you've placed a Fraud Alert on your credit report, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three consumer reporting agencies. Review all three reports carefully and:
- Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted
- Verify that all of your personal information is correct
- Check your credit report periodically to ensure that no new fraudulent activity has occurred
Step 2: Close Compromised or Fraudulent Accounts
If your accounts have been tampered with or if fraudulent accounts have been opened under your name, you will need to close them. Your first step will be to speak with someone in the Security or Fraud departments of each company in which the new accounts were opened. Then:
- Follow up in writing, including copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. Send your letter via certified mail with a return receipt to document what the company received. Keep a file of correspondence and enclosures.
- If charges have been made on existing accounts, request dispute forms from the company. If the company does not have special forms, visit www.ftc.gov for a sample letter. Always send correspondence to the address giving for "billing inquiries," NOT the address for sending payments.
- If new, unauthorized accounts are discovered, file a dispute directly with the company or file a report with the police. Provide a copy of the Identity Theft Report to the company. An Identity Theft Report will require the company to stop reporting any negative information to your credit report resulting from fraudulent activity.
- Once you've resolved a dispute with the company, request a letter stating that the company closed the accounts and discharged the fraudulent debt.
Step 3: File the Necessary Complaints
To protect yourself and others from future crime, please be sure to file complaints with the FDIC and your local police.
To file a complaint with the FDIC, visit www.ftc.gov, call 1-877-ID-THEFT or write the Identity Theft Clearinghouse at:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
622 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20580
Then, call your local police department to file a report about your identity theft. If the Police are reluctant to file and ID Theft Report, request that a "miscellaneous incident" report be filed, or try another jurisdiction such as the state police agency. Be sure to:
- Bring along a copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint Form to be incorporated into the attached police report.
- Request a copy of the formal police report