This information is provided to assist individuals who are victims or suspect they may be victims of Identity Theft. It is intended as a general guide, not as legal advice.
Some things to do immediately
Victims of identity theft must act quickly to minimize the damage. It is very important to keep good notes of all conversations and records of all correspondence with your financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, including a log of the names, dates and phone number of persons you contacted. You also should confirm the information in writing. Sending your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, will provide you with a record of your correspondence. You may also file an Identity Theft Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Report ID theft to major credit bureaus
Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and report that your identity has been stolen. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file.
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19016-1000
Experian (formerly TRW)
PO Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348
File a police report
Get a copy of the police report and retain for your records. Credit card companies and financial institutions may require you to show a copy of this report to verify the crime. Keep the phone number of your investigator and provide it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
Contact all creditors
For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the billing inquiries and security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close these accounts. Use passwords - not your mother's maiden name - on any new accounts opened. Confirm your contact in writing. Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." Having a "card lost or stolen" reference because when this statement is reported to credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss. Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills and report immediately any new fraudulent activity to credit grantors.
Obtain a copy of your credit report
As a victim of identity theft, you should obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor activity every few months. Ask the credit bureaus for names and phone numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask the credit bureaus to remove inquiries that have been generated due to the fraudulent access. Consumers seeking a copy of their credit report may be charged a fee.
- Equifax — 800-685-1111
- Experian (formerly TRW) — 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
- TransUnion — 800-888-4213
Contest bills that result from identity theft
Consumer and privacy advocates suggest not paying any portion of a bill which is a result of identity theft and not filing for bankruptcy. This will involve disputing credit card charges with the card company by writing to the address for "billing error" disputes - not the bill payment address. You should follow the directions given by the credit card company for disputing charges. This information must be provided by the company. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you as a result of identity theft. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but don't allow yourself to be coerced into paying fraudulent bills. Report such attempts to government regulators immediately.
Access information of fraudulent accounts
If a loan, credit or utility service account has been opened fraudulently in your name, you now can obtain a copy of the application used and a record of transactions or charges associated with that account. The information you learn may be useful in determining what personally identifying information was stolen, help clear your good name and credit, and even lead to the identity of the thief.