ID Theft Basics – How to Protect yourself

Current studies show that ID theft is at epidemic proportions. The Federal Trade Commission surveys estimated that there are close to 9.9 million victims and growing by 2 to 3 million a year.

For individuals that are not victims of identity theft, the best thing you can do is check your credit report regularly, focusing on two categories.

• Inquiries from unfamiliar companies. Here we are talking about someone applying for something in your name in a state that you don’t live in. Remember inquiries are the result of you applying for credit.
• Unfamiliar Accounts (tradelines). Are there debts or new credit listed on your credit report that you are not familiar with?

There are 3 major credit bureaus that provide services to monitor your credit report. These services give e-mails to you promptly if there are any changes to your report.

What to Do if ID Theft happens to you.
You want to keep a detailed log of events as you start the dispute process. You do this in case you run into problems with a creditor. The first step obviously is contact the 3 credit bureaus, local police, creditors, etc…… You keep detailed conversations logs with any of these entities you communicate with. Also keeps receipts, bills, or out of pocket expenses you incur during the process of disputing. I would also make note of the emotional stress and how it is affecting your work performance and personal relationships. In addition your expenses and time could be tax-deductible in certain circumstance.

Contact Law enforcement
Here is the properties procedure for contacting the authorities so you can file a formal report. You should include all fraudulent accounts in the report. As the Credit Bureaus say they are able to remove disputes, remember to keep a copy of the report number and contact info.
Who to contact:
• Local Police Department
• FTC 800-438-4338 or 800—ID THEFT

Credit Bureaus – Steps to take with the CRAs

• Notify one of the credit bureaus fraud units that you are victim of Identity Theft. This Bureau will be responsible for telling the other 2 Bureaus. (Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 888-397-3742; Trans Union: 800-680-7289)
• Tell Bureaus to flag you credit report with fraud alert
• Get a copy of your credit report with scores
• Once you have read your report, send a dispute letter, accompanied with police report along with the FTC fraud affidavit specifying which accounts are fraudulent.
• Subscribe to the Bureaus monitoring services of your credit report
• Consider signing up for Identity Guard.
• Ask the Bureaus to contact the creditors that fraudulent activities have taken place.

Debt Collectors- You will be getting calls from debt collectors more than likely. If they call you:

• Get the debt collectors companies name, address and there phone number. Let him or her know you are noting the time and date of the conversation in your log activity book
• Inform the collection agency you are a victim of Identity Theft
• Provide the FTC uniform fraud affidavit
• Ask for number and name of credit issuer.
• Send the debt collector a letter, stating that you do not owe this debt and that the account has been close.
• Request in writing that the account is being flagged as fraudulent, and is being closed. You also should request in writing that the fraudulent account is being removed from your credit report.

New accounts opened in your name: the Identity Thief has opened new accounts in your good name: what to do. The credit report you pulled should list all creditors that have accounts in your name with contact numbers.

• Notify each creditor of the identity theft that has taken place to you. You will be asked to send a fraud affidavit. (Be sure to put all of this in your log)
• Ask the creditors to send you any application or fraudulent activity that has happened in your good name.
• Add passwords to all accounts
• If the thief has got a hold of your checking account, credit cards, get replacements with new numbers. Call and request these accounts to be closed as well.
• Fill out FTC uniform fraud affidavit.

Your Checking account- If the thief has wrote checks in your name here is what you do.

• Call your local police, and file a report
• Call your bank and close the account immediately
• Remember to keep good logs
• Typically your bank will refund you your money, and ask for a copy of police report filed.

This stuff is serious business; I hope this will help you resolve issues involving identity theft to you.

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Disclaimer: This information has been compiled and provided by 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.