What to Do if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
If you discover that your information or identity has been compromised, act quickly to inform the agencies that can be most helpful to you in stopping the illegal use of your good name and credit. Here are the most important groups to contact:
Credit Reporting Agencies
Notify any of the fraud departments of the three major credit-reporting agencies. A single call to just one agency is all you need to have a fraud alert placed on all three of your accounts within 24 hours. You can also get a free copy of your report.
Order additional reports after you’ve resolved the problem to ensure that they reflect the changes. Check again every six months for at least a year.
Financial Institutions & Creditors
- Contact your credit union, other financial institutions, and your creditors to close the affected accounts and open new ones.
- Change all personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords, even on unaffected accounts.
- File an identity theft report in the police jurisdiction that you reside in.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the crime.
- Notify your local postal inspector if mail has been stolen. Mail theft is a federal crime.
- Notify the Social Security Administration if your Social Security number has been used to gain employment.
Tips on Organizing Your Case
Accurate and complete records will greatly improve your chances of resolving your identity theft case:
Get It in Writing
Follow up in writing with all contacts you’ve made on the phone or in person. Use certified mail, return receipt requested.
Maintain a Paper Trail
Keep records of all correspondence or forms you send. And, be sure to keep originals of supporting documentation like police reports, and letters to and from creditors; send copies only.
Write Down Names
Record the name of anyone you talk to, what he or she said, and the date the conversation occurred.
Create a Filing System
Set up a filing system for easy access to paperwork, and keep old files even if you believe your case is closed as identity theft can reappear on your credit reports.