Despite your best efforts to protect yourself, you have become a victim. Now what?
The following steps should be taken immediately and at the same time to best insure your protection.
In the process of resolving the theft of your identity, be sure to keep records of all correspondence with the creditors and government agencies you contact. Include the date and name of contact. Follow up all telephone contacts with a letter and keep a copy.
Notify all creditors and financial institutions, in writing and by phone, that your name and accounts have been used without your permission. If an existing account has been stolen, ask the credit or bank to issue you new cards, checks and account numbers. Carefully monitor the account activity to the issuing company immediately. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) is a federal law that limits a consumer’s responsibility for fraudulent charges to $50.
If your bank accounts have been tampered with, close those accounts, destroy any checks and cut up any ATM cards. If your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment on all checks. Open a new account and reissue checks to legitimate creditors. Also, ask your bank to notify its check verification company to stop giving approval for any of the stolen checks.
Local Law Enforcement
Immediately file a police or identity theft report with your local police. Provide them with as much documentation as possible. Make sure that the accounts are listed on the report. Also, get a copy of the report. Credit card companies, banks and credit reporting agencies may require you to show a police report to support your claim that a crime was committed.
Federal Law Enforcement
Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from consumers and stores them in a secure online database called the Consumer Sentinel that is available to law enforcement agencies worldwide. The FTC provides information on ways to resolve problems resulting from identity theft and refers individuals to various private and government agencies for further action.
Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20580
The Credit Reporting Agencies
Contact the fraud unit at one of the three national credit reporting agencies. Have a fraud alert placed on your credit report to help prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened. The agency you contact will notify the others to place a fraud alert in their files. Keep track of when the alert expires so you can ask for another one, if necessary. However, not all creditors check your credit report before issuing a new account.
As an ID fraud victim, you are entitled to free copies of your credit report. Once you have become a victim, ask the three national agencies for a copy of your credit report every three months. This can help determine how many and which accounts listed are fraudulent. You can also identify the existing accounts that have been stolen
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
Ask utility companies (local and long distance telephone service providers, gas, electric and water companies) to watch out for anyone ordering services in your name. If someone has ordered services in your name, cancel those accounts. If you are having trouble with falsified accounts, contact your state Public Utility Commission.
Other Resources to Contact
- United States Postal Inspection
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza
Washington, DC 20260
- United States Secret Service (USSS) – Generally, the USSS will intervene only when the dollar amount of the crime is high. However, they should still be notified in case it is part of a larger fraud ring
U.S. Secret Service
Contact your local field office
- Social Security Administration (SSA) – The SSA does not generally take action unless there is a high dollar amount, workplace impersonation or crimes committed in your name. They will only change your SSN if you fit their fraud victim criteria.
Social Security Administration
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21235
1-800-269-271 (fraud hotline)
- Call for Action, Inc – Call for Action, Inc is an international nonprofit network of consumer hotlines. CFA volunteers provide assistance and mediate cases on behalf of consumers and small businesses. For more information on identity theft visit www.callforaction.org