So, you are a victim of identity theft. Here’s what to do:
If you are or think you are a victim of identity theft, the task of correcting misused information can seem daunting. But the Office of Congressman Adam Smith has prepared a list of steps for you to take so that you can get started and undo the damage as quickly as possible. Read the following information thoroughly and follow each step.
Note: As you go through the steps on this checklist, make sure to record the dates you made calls and who you called, save copies of all letters and communications you receive, and create a fraud documentation file for all of this information. This will help you as you with the fraud recovery process.
Also, whenever you communicate with a business or credit reporting company in writing, send certified mail and ask for a return receipt. This will help you track your mail and will provide extra security.
1. Notify the fraud units of the three major credit reporting companies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and establish a fraud alert. Placing the fraud alert means that your file will be flagged and that creditors are required to call you before extending credit. Call first and follow up in writing if necessary.
- Call to report fraud: (888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
- Website: www.experian.com/fraud
- Call to report fraud: (888) 766-0008 or for TDD (800) 255-0056
- Website: www.equifax.com
- Call to report fraud: (800) 680-7289 or for TDD (877) 553-7803
- Website: www.transunion.com
- Email (Fraud victims only): email@example.com
- You can place an initial fraud alert for only 90 days, after which you can renew it for another 90 days.
- Confirm that the company you call will notify the other two. When you call one company and establish a fraud alert, they are supposed to notify the other two companies. Confirm that they have done this as an added precaution.
2. Obtain free copies of your credit report from each credit company and examine them for fraudulent accounts and false information. You must contact each company separately.
- Tell them that you placed a fraud alert, and order your free copy of your credit report.
- The three credit companies have a central website and telephone number to order credit reports.
- You may order your reports from each of them at the same time, or you can order your report from each of them separately.
- To order online, visit www.annualcreditreport.com
- To order by phone, call 1-877-322-8228
- Request that only the last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN) appear on the credit report, for added security.
- If you see errors like accounts you didn’t open or debts you didn’t incur, contact the three credit companies, the fraud department of each business that reported an account opened in your name, and the fraud department of each business that reported a fraudulent transaction on your existing account(s) in writing.
- If the names and phone numbers of businesses with new accounts in your name are not included in the credit report, ask the credit companies for them. Then contact them yourself, in writing, to report the fraud.
- Consider closing all accounts that were tampered with or opened fraudulently. If you do, make sure you use different passwords and PIN numbers for your new accounts.
- Save all credit reports you receive and put them in your fraud documentation file.
3. Create an Identity Theft Report. This will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and businesses that opened accounts in your name. You can use it to remove fraudulent information from your credit report, stop a company from collecting debts that result from identity theft, and get information from companies about accounts the identity thief opened or misused.
- To do this, first submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and obtain an Identity Theft Affidavit. The FTC is the government entity responsible for processing identity theft complaints.
- Submit online: www.ftc.gov/complaint
- If you submit your complaint online, be sure to save your complaint reference number (which will allow you to update your complaint later) and click on the link that says “Click here to get your completed FTC Identity Theft Affidavit”. Then, save or print your affidavit.
- Submit by phone: call 1-877-438-4338
- If you submit your complaint by phone, state that you are an identity theft victim, and ask for your complaint reference number and Affidavit password. Write these down. You will receive an email from the FTC. Enter your complaint reference number, Affidavit password, and email address. You will then be able to save or print your Affidavit.
- However you submit your complaint, be sure to record the date you submitted your complaint and save a copy of your Affidavit.
- Then, file a police report.
- Go to your local police department, or the police department where the theft occurred. Bring your Identity Theft Affidavit and any proof of theft you have.
- Complete a report about the theft.
- Ask to have a copy of the report or the number of the report.
- Record the date you called, visited, and filed the police report, and save a copy of the report.
- Attach your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to your police report. This is your Identity Theft Report. Make sure you have more than one copy, and save a copy in your fraud documentation file If you have specific questions about a certain type of fraud perpetrated by an identity thief, or are confused about what to do next, please consult this checklist provided by the FTC.
For more information, please refer to the FTC Identity Theft Recovery Checklist, the US Department of Justice Identity Theft webpage, and the Private Rights Clearinghouse Identity Theft Checklist webpage.