This information is provided as a general guide to assist individuals who are victims or suspect they may be victims of Identity Theft. It is not as legal advice.
If someone has used your identity without your permission to open an account, misuse existing accounts, make a lease or loan, obtain services, file forms for taxes or government benefits, break the law or avoid police, then consider these tips:
Act Quickly – Don't Wait. Recovery from identity theft is usually easier if you take action as soon as you learn that you are a victim or may be one. Some protections may be lost if you wait too long to report the misuse, such as limits on loss from misuse of your debit or credit cards.
ID Theft Victim Kit. Get a free victim kit to guide you through the process of recovering from identity theft, including the steps below. See "Resources" on this page for links to the Attorney General's Identity Theft Tool Kit and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
Fraud Alert. Place a free fraud alert on your credit report, by contacting any of the major credit reporting agencies. A fraud alert will alert businesses to verify identity before issuing credit in your name. Be careful to only sign up for the free alert unless you want other services you have to pay for. It lasts for 90 days, but you can extend it to 7 years if you are an identity theft victim and can provide a police report.
Experian – (800) 525-6285, www.experian.com;
TransUnion – (888) 397-3742, www.transunion.com;
Equifax – (800) 680-7289), www.equifax.com.
Police. Contact local law enforcement to report the identity theft. Get a copy of the report, which you can use to obtain an extended fraud alert and free security freezes.
Credit Report Freeze. Put a security “freeze” on your credit report at the major credit reporting agencies. There is a fee unless you have a police report or are under 16 years old. You will have to contact each credit reporting agency where you want to freeze your credit report. Some credit reporting agencies offer a “credit lock” service that is similar to a security freeze that may be free or cost less – you decide what will work for you.
Credit Report. Get your credit report and review it carefully. You are entitled to a free report from each major credit reporting agency each year, which you can order online at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling the credit reporting agency. You can also get a free report when you place a fraud alert. Check your credit report for any suspicious activity on your accounts, such as accounts you do not recognize or that have been placed in collection without your knowledge.
Creditors and Accounts. If you learn that an account has been misused or opened fraudulently in your name, contact the business as soon as possible to report the misuse and dispute any charges or transactions that you did not make. You can ask the business about closing the account, reissuing any credit or debit cards for existing accounts, and a copy of the application and other records used to open the account. Carefully monitor your account statements and bills.
Keep a Record. Keep good notes of conversations and copies of correspondence with businesses and law enforcement agencies.
Monitor. Carefully keep watch over your accounts and credit reports, even after you have taken these steps. Some effects of identity theft may not be noticed immediately, such as fraudulent accounts that are later sent to a debt collector, or credit report errors due to misuse of your identity.
How can I protect myself from identity theft?
Scammers and Phishing. Watch for scammers using phone calls or “phishing” emails falsely claiming to be from a company, credit reporting agency, or government agency, and be very careful about clicking on links that may lead you to legitimate-looking websites urging you to give up personal information. Never respond to pop-up ads that ask for personal or financial information.
Fraud Alert. Consider placing a free “fraud alert” on your credit report. See "Fraud Alert" above for information.
Credit Report. Check your credit reports for free. See "Credit Report" above for information.
Monitor Accounts. Carefully monitor communications from anyone you have an account with or obtain a service from. Regularly review your transactions, accounts, and debit and credit cards. Watch for other warning signs that your identity or credit information has been misused, such as: receiving credit cards for accounts that you did not open; receiving an address or account change notice you did not initiate; being denied credit or favorable credit terms for no apparent reason; receiving collection calls for accounts that you do not know are late; or you suddenly stop receiving statements from a creditor for no good reason.
Call your bank or the merchant if you see mistakes or signs of misuse, and ask that any fraudulent charges be removed. Ask the bank or merchant whether you should close the account or replace it with a new one.
If you have an online account, consider changing your password and pin numbers. Log in to that account and change your password. If possible, also change your username. If you can't log in, contact the company. Ask them how you can recover or shut down the account.
If you use the same password anywhere else, change that, too.
Monitor your child's or ward's identity regularly to be sure no accounts are opened in his or her name. Go to
www.annualcreditreport.com or to a credit reporting agency's website for information on how to check with the credit reporting agencies to see if a credit history has been established in the name of your child or ward.
Security Freeze. Consider placing a credit freeze for you or your child or ward. See "Credit Report Freeze" above for information.
Taxes. File your taxes early before a scammer can. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
Don't believe anyone who calls and says you'll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt even if they have part or all of your Social Security number or they say they're from the IRS.
Learn More. Review the FTC's information on Identify Theft and Child Identity Theft.
What if my information has been compromised by a security breach?
Read the Notice Carefully and Stay Informed. Take note of the personal information affected by the security breach – some types of personal information may be more sensitive or lead you to take more steps to protect yourself. There may be additional or more detailed information on the company's website (but find the website address on your own or by searching the internet – be careful of clicking on a link in an email). Stay informed by checking the company's website or contacting them for more information.
Be Vigilant. Monitor your accounts and credit reports. Receiving a data breach notice does not automatically mean you are a victim of identity theft unless the notice says so, but could indicate that you are at higher risk of identity theft.
Credit Monitoring. Some businesses offer free credit monitoring and identity protection services when there is a security breach. Consider whether to take advantage of those free services. The security breach notice will usually provide information on how to enroll in those services. If it is offered for free, then do not sign up for something you have to pay for unless you want the additional services.
Protect Yourself. For additional tips on protecting yourself from identity theft, consult the [link and name for part of page re Tips to Protect Yourself] on this website.
Contact Us. If you want to discuss a security breach notice you have received, you may call the Kentucky Attorney General's Office on our toll-free Security Breach Hotline at 855-813-6508, submit an
online complaint form, or mail your question or complaint to the address in the sidebar.
Security Freeze Information for Kentucky Residents
Kentucky residents have the right to put a "security freeze" on their credit report with each credit reporting agency. A security freeze restricts the sharing of your credit report without your authorization, but there are exceptions. A security freeze may help prevent identity theft, because manybusinesses will not open credit accounts without first checking your credit report. Additionally, if someone changes information about your name, address, birth date, or Social Security Number in a frozen credit report, the credit reporting agency must send written confirmation of the change to you within 30 days.
A representative of a minor under age 16 or an incapacitated person can also put a security freeze in place for that protected person. A representative may have to present sufficient proof of their authority to act for the protected person, such as a birth certificate, court order, or valid power of attorney.
You can also temporarily lift or remove a security freeze.
A credit reporting agency may charge you up to $10 for a security freeze, but there is no fee for an identity theft victim who provides a valid police report upon request or for minors under age 19.
You will have to contact each credit reporting agency separately for their fees and procedures for security freezes. Placing a credit freeze with one credit reporting agency does not automatically freeze you credit reports with the other credit reporting agencies. The contact information for Experian, Transunion, and Equifax is shared above.
Some things to consider about security freezes:
- Some reasons for temporarily lifting a security freeze include obtaining credit or to allow a potential employer or lessor to see your credit reportYou must contact each credit bureau from which you want to temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze and provide proper identification and the fee.
- Plan ahead for a temporary lift or removal of a security freeze, because the credit bureau has 3 business days to comply after receiving your request.
- If a security freeze is placed because you make a material misrepresentation of fact, the credit reporting agency may temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze without your authorization after providing written notice to you.
- Even if a security freeze is in effect, the credit reporting agency may provide your credit report to certain people, such as a law enforcement or child support enforcement agency, court, private collection agencies who are collecting a debt from you and anyone to whom you owe a financial obligation for account review or collection, insurance companies to investigate claims or set rates, and others for certain purposes.
If you believe that your security freeze rights have been violated, you may enforce your rights in state court. You may also file a consumer complaint with the Kentucky Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection.