Steps To Take If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
1. Freeze any of your compromised accounts.
If you discovered the fraud by way of suspicious banking activity or charges to a line of credit, the first course of action is to keep your money safe and freeze the affected accounts.
2. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports and review the reports carefully.
You can do this by contacting any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies; whichever bureau you call will inform the others. Use the toll-free numbers below to activate an initial one-year fraud alert which tells creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or changing existing accounts.
- Equifax: 800.525.6285
- Experian: 888.EXPERIAN (888.397.3742)
- TransUnion: 800.680.7289
When you place a fraud alert, you can also order free copies of your credit report. Review your report for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain.
3. Close the accounts by calling the security or fraud departments of each company where you know or believe an account has been fraudulently accessed or opened. Open new accounts obtaining new PINs and passwords. Secure new usernames, passwords, PINs, etc. from credit card companies, phone and utility companies, banks and other financial institutions.
– Be sure to follow up in writing with copies of supporting documents.
– Use the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Affidavit to support your written statement.
– Ask for verification that the account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
– Be sure to keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
4. File a report with your local police – or the police where the identity theft took place. Make sure to get and keep a copy of the report in case your creditors need proof of the crime.
5. Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. You can do this online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone — 877.438.4338. It’s an important step that will give you access to the Affidavit, forms and other documentation you may need as evidence to close fraudulent accounts and begin the recovery process.
NOTE: If you’re the victim of tax-related identity theft, report it to the IRS online, using the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov website to file IRS Form 14039. In addition to filing the Affidavit, you’ll still need to pay any taxes owed.
6. Finally, consider placing an extended fraud alert or credit freeze. An extended fraud alert on your credit report lasts for seven years. It can be initiated through any one of the three credit bureaus (listed in bullet point #2). A credit freeze means that no one can access your credit report.
Back to top