If you’re a Victim
Sometimes an identity thief can strike even if you’ve been very careful about keeping your personal information to yourself. If you suspect that your personal information has been hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately, and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. Exactly which steps you should take to protect yourself depends on your circumstances and how your identity has been misused. However, four basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.
Your First Four Steps
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports
Call the toll-free fraud number of any one of three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place fraud alerts on your credit report, and all three reports will be sent to you free of charge.
- Equifax – To report fraud, call 1-800-525-6285, and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian – To report fraud, call 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742), and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion – To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289, write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834- 6790
Once you receive your reports, review them carefully. Look for inquires you didn’t initiate, accounts you didn’t open, and unexplained debts on your true accounts. You also should verify that information such as your SSN, address, name or initial, and employers are correct. If you find discrepancies you should notify the credit bureau as soon as possible by telephone and in writing. You should continue to check your reports periodically, especially in the first year after you’ve discovered the theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred. The automated one-call fraud alert process only works for the initial placement of your fraud alert. Orders for additional credit reports or renewals of your fraud alerts must me made separately at each of the three major credit bureaus.
2. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Credit accounts include all accounts with banks, credit card companies and other lenders, and phone companies, utilities, ISPs, and other service providers.
If you’re closing existing accounts and opening new ones, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords.
If there are fraudulent charges or debits, ask the company about the following forms for disputing those transactions:
· For existing accounts, ask the representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute forms.
· If you believe your ATM or debit card has been stolen or if your PIN has been compromised contact your bank immediately. Get a new card with a new PIN.
If your checks have been stolen or misused, contact your bank immediately about closing the account. Some banks, including First Federal, will do this at no charge. While no federal law limits your losses if someone steals your checks and forges your signature, state laws protect you. You are required to take reasonable care of your account. For example, you may be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to notify the bank in a timely way that a check was lost or stolen. Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information.
You also should contact these three major check verification companies. Ask that retailers who use their databases to not accept your lost checks.
TeleCheck – 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
Certegy, Inc. – 1-800-437-5120
International Check Services – 1-800-631-9656
Call SCAN (1-800-262-7771) to find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your name.
3. File a report with your local policy or the policy in the community where the identity theft took place.
Keep a copy of the report. You may need it to validate your claims to creditors. If you can’t get a copy, at least get the report number.
4. File a complaint with the FTC.
By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC also can refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and companies for further action. The FTC enters the information you provide into our secure database.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.