Identity theft has been the number one consumer crime in the U.S. for the past five years and is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. The following is a list of things to do if you are a victim of identity theft. This information comes from the Federal Trade Commission
Minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. View more tips from the FTC National Resource Center About ID Theft
How It Happens
How can someone steal your identity? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years and their hard-earned money cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing, or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
Identity Theft Process
If you think your identity has been stolen, here's what to do:
- Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts. Once the alert is placed, you may order a free copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus.
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
- File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
- File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.