Identity Theft Home
What is Identify theft?
Protect yourself from identify theft
What to do if you’re a victim
Frequently Asked Questions
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1. File a report with your local police department or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Get a copy of the police report, if possible, or at least the report number. This is the first step toward an official investigation if one is needed.
Then file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can do this via the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT, online, or by writing to: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
2. Call one of the three major credit reporting agencies and ask for a fraud alert to be placed on your credit report:
The fraud alert lasts for at least 90 days, during which time creditors must call you before opening new accounts in your name. If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can request that an extended alert be placed on your reports for a full seven years.
As soon as your fraud alert is confirmed, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be alerted to also place fraud alerts on your credit reports, and all three reports will be sent to you free of charge. Review the reports carefully, looking for inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you didn't open and unexplained debts on your accounts.
Also confirm that your Social Security number, address, name and employment information are accurate, and notify the credit bureau immediately (by telephone and in writing) if there are any errors. Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially in the first year after the identity theft.
3. Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor about closing those accounts and disputing any fraudulent transactions. Keep a detailed log of all contacts with creditors, including dates and times contacted, names of individuals spoken to and notes relating to each contact.
If an identity thief has stolen your mail to obtain personal information, contact your local post office for the phone number of the nearest postal inspection service office, or visit the Postal Service website.
If you have reason to believe that an identity thief has tampered with your bank accounts, checks or ATM/debit card,
close the accounts immediately. If your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment on any outstanding checks. Also contact the major check verification companies to request that they notify retailers using their databases not to accept these checks, or ask your bank to notify the appropriate check verification service:
For identity theft involving your securities, investments or a brokerage account, immediately report it to your broker or account manager and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If an identity thief has established new phone service in your name or is making unauthorized calls using your phone number, calling card number and PIN, contact your service provider to cancel the account. If you experience difficulties in getting fraudulent phone charges removed from your account, contact your state Public Utility Commission for local service providers or the Federal Communications Commission for long-distance service providers and cellular providers at 888-CALL-FCC or visit the FCC website.
If you believe someone is using your Social Security number to apply for a job or to work, report this to the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271. Call 800-772-1213 to request a copy of your Social Security earnings and benefits statement and verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on the statement.
If you suspect that your name or Social Security number are being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, ask them to substitute another number.
If you believe someone has filed for bankruptcy using your name, write to the U.S. Trustee in the Region where the bankruptcy was filed. A listing of the U.S. Trustee Program's Regions can be found here or look in the blue pages of your phone book under U.S. Government-Bankruptcy Administration. Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your identity. You may also want to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy was filed.
In rare instances, an identity thief may create a criminal record under your name. If this happens to you, you may need an attorney to help resolve the problem.