What to Do If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft… Part I

Right after you stop reeling from the shock, it’s time to take action.

You may have learned of the identity theft by examining your credit report and finding inquiries from unfamiliar companies (a sign that someone has applied for credit in your name) or by finding debts or new credit accounts that you don’t recognize.

If instead you learned of it only when debt collectors began to call, get a copy of your report immediately. You’ll need it when you take the next step: Contacting law enforcement.

You must file a formal report, because you’ll need a copy of the report when you contact the credit bureaus and respond to debt collectors. Your police report should include all the fraudulent accounts you identify when examining your credit report.

• Your Local Police Department
• FTC.gov/bcp/coline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pdf
• FTC 800-438-4338 or 800-ID THEFT

As you begin this process, keep a detailed log of everything you do, everyone you speak with, and what is said by both parties. Keep track of every expense you incur, as well. Put all receipts in one safe place for easy access later. In your log, make note of the emotional stress and how it is affecting your work and your personal relationships. Depending upon circumstances, your actual expenses and your time loss could be tax-deductible.

Now contact the credit bureaus. Notify one of the credit bureau fraud units that you are a victim of Identity Theft. That Bureau will take responsibility for telling the other two bureaus. (Call Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 888-397-3742; or Trans Union: 800-680-7289) Next:

• Tell the Bureaus to flag your credit report with a fraud alert
• Send a dispute letter, accompanied by the police report and the FTC fraud affidavit specifying which accounts are fraudulent.
• Subscribe to the bureau’s monitoring services
• Consider signing up for Trusted ID services – which will block your credit report so only you can use it.
• Ask the Bureaus to contact the creditors and let them know that fraudulent activities have taken place.

You’ll probably have to deal with debt collectors. Here’s how to handle them:
• Get the collector’s name, company name, address, and phone number – noted in your detailed log. Inform the caller that you are recording this information, along with the date and time.
• Inform the collection agency you ar a victim of Identity Theft
• Provide the FTC uniform fraud affidavit
• Ask for the name and number of the credit issuer they’re representing
• Send the debt collector a letter, stating that you do not owe this debt and that the account is closed.
• Request in writing that the account be flagged as fraudulent and ask that it be removed from your credit report.


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Disclaimer: This information has been compiled and provided by CreditScoreQuick.com as an informational service to the public. While our goal is to provide information that will help consumers to manage their credit and debt, this information should not be considered legal advice. Such advice must be specific to the various circumstances of each person's situation, and the general information provided on these pages should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.