It’s frightening to lose your wallet or discover that someone has used your information for a fraudulent purpose. Sometimes an identity thief can strike even if you’ve been very careful about keeping your personal information to yourself.
If you find that identity theft has already happened – don’t panic. Take action immediately and know that help is available.
4 Steps Need to be Taken Immediately:*
- Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. (The alert tells creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or changing existing accounts.)The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Experian 888.EXPERIAN (397.3742)
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.
- 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 and secure new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. (Accounts may include those 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.
- 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.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission online or by phone, as this helps law enforcement officials across the nation with their investigations. 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.
* As recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.