What Should You Do if It Happens to You?
guide provides victims of identity theft with the major resources to contact.
Unfortunately, at this time victims themselves are burdened with resolving the
problem. It is important to act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.
dealing with the authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all
conversations, including dates, names, and phone numbers. Note time spent and
any expenses incurred. Confirm conversations in writing. Send correspondence by
certified mail (return receipt requested). Keep copies of all letters and
Immediately call the fraud
units of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian (formerly TRW),
Equifax and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers.
Ask that your account be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report,
up to 100 words. ("My ID has been used to apply for credit fraudulently.
Contact me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX to verify all applications.") Be sure to ask
how long the fraud alert is posted on your account, and how you can extend it if
aware that these measures may not entirely stop new fraudulent accounts from
being opened by the imposter. Ask the credit bureaus in writing to provide you
with free copies every few months so you can monitor your credit report.
the credit bureaus for names and phone numbers of credit grantors with whom
fraudulent accounts have been opened, and also review the credit reports for accounts
you do not recognize. Ask the credit bureaus to remove inquiries
that have been generated due to the fraudulent access. You may also ask the
credit bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the last
six months in order to alert them to the disputed and erroneous information (two
years for employers.)
all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently -- by
phone and in writing. Get replacement cards with new account numbers for your
own accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be
processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (This is better
than "card lost or stolen," because when this statement is reported to
credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Carefully
monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity.
Report it immediately to credit grantors.
requirements to verify fraud: You may be asked by banks and credit grantors to
fill out and notarize fraud affidavits, which could become costly. The law does
not require that a notarized affidavit be provided to creditors. A written
statement and supporting documentation should be enough (unless the creditor
offers to pay for the notary).
Report the crime to all police and sheriff's departments with jurisdiction in
your case. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Get a copy of your
police report. Keep the phone number of your fraud investigator handy and give
it to creditors and others who require verification of your case. Credit card
companies and banks may require you to show the report in order to verify the
crime. (Concentrate on the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction,
usually the address where the merchandise is to be delivered.)
If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to
the check verification companies [such as: TeleCheck at (800) 710-9898]. Put
stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your
checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a
secret password for your account (not mother's maiden name).
ATM cards. If
your ATM card has been stolen or compromised, get a new card, account number and
password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, don't use
common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security number or your birthrate.
Fraudulent change of address.
Notify the local Postal Inspector at www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect
if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the
post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud. (Call the local
Postmaster to obtain the phone number.) Find out where fraudulent credit cards
were sent. Notify the local Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in
your name to your own address. You may also need to talk with the mail carrier.
Secret Service jurisdiction.
The Secret Service at www.treas.gov/usss
has jurisdiction over financial fraud, but it usually does not investigate
individual cases unless the dollar amount is high or you are one of many victims
of a fraud ring. To interest the Secret Service in your case, you may want to
ask the fraud department of the credit card companies and/or banks, as well as
the police investigator, to notify the particular Secret Service agent they work
Social Security Number misuse.
Call the Social Security Administration to report fraudulent use of your Social
Security number. As a last resort, you might want to change your number. The SSA
at www.ssa.gov will only change it if you fit
their fraud victim criteria. Also order a copy of your Earnings and Benefits
Statement and check it for accuracy.
you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing to be on the lookout
for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently at http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html.
If your long distance calling card has been stolen or you discover fraudulent
charges on your bill, cancel the account and open a new one. Provide a password
which must be used any time the account is changed.
Drivers license number misuse.
You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is using yours as
identification on bad checks. Call the Georgia
Department of Motor Vehicle Safety (DMVS) at (678) 413-8400, to see if
another license was issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license. Go
to your local DMVS to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMVS's complaint
form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with
the completed form to the nearest DMVS investigation office.
False civil and criminal judgments.
Sometimes victims of identity theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed
by the imposter. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions
taken by your imposter, contact the court where the judgment was entered and
report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted
for criminal charges, contact the Georgia State Attorney General's Office or the
FBI. Ask how to clear your name.
Legal help. You
may want to consult an attorney to determine legal action to take against
creditors and/or credit bureaus if they are not cooperative in removing
fraudulent entries from your credit report or if negligence is a factor. Call
the local Bar Association to find an attorney who specializes in consumer law
and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Dealing with emotional stress.
counseling may help you deal with the stress and anxiety commonly experienced by
victims. Know that you are not alone.
Write to your state and federal legislators. Demand stronger privacy protection
and fraud assistance by creditors and credit bureaus.
16. Don't give in. Finally, do not pay any bill or portion of a bill which is a result of identity theft. Do not cover any checks which were written and/or cashed fraudulently. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but don't allow yourself to be coerced into paying fraudulent bills.