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 [summary description - open an account – misuse existing credit or bank accounts - make a lease or loan - obtain services (such as utility, phone, insurance, medical) – tax – government benefits – break the law or avoid police] then consider these tips:
Act Quickly – Don't Wait. Recovery from identity theft is usually more easy 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. [OAG phone and link to OAG kit; link to FTC IdentityTheft.gov]
Fraud Alert. Place a free fraud alert on your credit report, by contacting any of the major credit reporting agencies. [List of Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, with phone numbers and websites.]
Police. Contact local law enforcement to report the identity theft. Get a copy of the report. The report can be used 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, are under 16 years old, or a guardian has been appointed for you. 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 [website for annual credit report] or by calling the credit reporting agency. You can also get a free report when you place a fraud alert.
Creditors and Accounts. If you learn that an existing account has been misused, 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 and reissuing any credit or debit cards. Carefully monitor your account statements and bills. If an account was opened fraudulently in your name, ask for a copy of the application and other records associated with the account.
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?
Watch for scammers using phone calls or “phishing” emails falsely claiming to be from the company or a credit reporting agency, and be very careful about clicking on links to other websites 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.
Consider placing a free “fraud alert” on your credit report, which alerts businesses that they should verify identity before issuing credit in a consumer's name. Be careful to only sign up for the free fraud alert, unless you want other services you have to pay for. You should get a free credit report when you place a fraud alert. It lasts for 90 days, and you can sign up by contacting any one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, 1-800-525-6285, www.equifax.com; TransUnion, 1-800-680-7289, www.transunion.com; Experian, 1-888-397-3742, www.experian.com.)
Check your credit reports for free, by using www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free annual credit report from the major credit reporting agencies. 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.
Carefully monitor communications from anyone you have an account with or obtain a service from. Call if you see mistakes or signs of misuse.
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.
Watch for 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.
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 under “Frequently Asked Questions”, 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 your child's or ward's name.
credit freeze for you or for your child –
file your taxes early - before a scammer can. Tax Identity Theft - 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.
Review the FTC's information on Child Identity Theft
Review your transactions regularly. Make sure no one misused your card.
If you find fraudulent charges, call the fraud department and get them removed.
Contact your bank to close the account and open a new one.
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.