About Identity Theft
You are a victim of Identity Theft if someone is using YOUR personal or financial information to make purchases, get benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud. Somehow they obtained enough information about you to convince others they are you.
It could cost you everything and most people don’t know how to respond when it happens. It’s critical to respond promptly and correctly.
What to Do Right Away:
Step 1: Call the companies where you know a fraud has occurred.
- Ask for the fraud department and report that someone has stolen your identity.
- Ask them to close or freeze your accounts so that no one can add new charges unless you agree.
- Change related logins, passwords, and PIN’s for your accounts.
Step 2: Place a FREE fraud alert at one of the three national credit bureaus in order to make it difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name. The one bureau will advise the others and you will receive a letter of confirmation from each of the three.
- Experian.com/fraudalert (888) 397-3742
- Transunion.com/fraud (800) 680-7289
- Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance (888) 766-0008
At the same time, you should obtain credit reports from all three credit bureaus. To do this, you have several options:
- Obtain FREE annual credit reports according to federal law at www.annualcreditreport.com if you haven’t yet ordered yours during the previous 12 months.
- Or, if you have already ordered your FREE credit reports for the year, you can pay for your current reports at the same website or by visiting one of the bureau websites.
- Or, you can wait for the confirmation letters from the bureaus to obtain FREE reports.
As soon as you receive your reports, you should review them immediately looking for any account transactions you don’t recognize.
Step 3: Report to the Federal Trade Commission that you have been the victim of Identity Theft at the following website: https://www.identitytheft.gov/
You can also call 1-877-438-4338.
Create an account at the website and report the theft of your identity into their system. You need to do this to legally document that you are a victim so that you can avoid the related liability. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Obtain a copy of the FTC publication: “Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan.”
Know Your Rights:
If you have been the victim of identity theft, you have the following rights established by law:
- Create an Identity Theft Report
- Place a 90-day initial fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Place a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit reports.
- Get FREE copies of your credit reports.
- Get fraudulent information removed (or blocked) from your credit report.
- Dispute fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit reports.
- Stop creditors and debt collectors from reporting fraudulent accounts.
- Get copies of documents related to your identity theft.
- Stop a debt collector from contacting you.
You may link to the FTC website through the following LINK
*The forgoing information has been excerpted from the FTC publication called “Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan”