We are all vulnerable to having our identity stolen at any time. There are high-profile cases — like the one at Target — and other smaller cases that most of us are not even aware of. This information is meant to provide an overview of what to do when you think your identity might have been stolen.
As you go through the four-step plan outlined below, is it important to keep detailed records by doing the following:
- Create a log of all phone calls including the date and contact information for everyone you speak with
- Send letters by certified mail asking for a return receipt
- Create a filing system and keep all original correspondence when possible and copies of originals you were required to send
- Make a timeline listing important dates about when requests must be filed, when a response is expected, and if additional follow-up is needed
Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
Ask for the fraud department and explain that someone stole your identity. Ask them to close or freeze accounts so that new charges can’t be added. Change your username, password, and PIN for these accounts.
Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports.
Call one of the following companies and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. They are required to notify the others. This is free and it will make it harder for someone to open an account in your name. They will mail you a letter confirming this request.
- Experian: Experian.com/fraudalert (888-397-3742)
- TransUnion: TransUnion.com/fraud (800-680-7289)
- Equifax: Equifax.com/creditreportassistance (888-766-0008)
Get your free credit report by going to AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 877-322-8228. Review your reports and note anything you don’t recognize.
Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC.
Go to IdentityTheft.gov or call 877-438-4338 and provide all the details you have. They will help you create a recovery plan.
Step 4: File a police report (if necessary).
Go to the local police station with the following:
- Copy of your FTC ID theft report from Step 3
- Government ID
- Proof of address on utility bill
- Any proof of ID theft than you can bring
It is important to remember that each case of ID theft is unique. There is a big difference between having your existing credit card information stolen and someone opening new accounts and obtaining credit using your personal information.
The FTC has published a comprehensive document called “Identity Theft — A Recovery Plan” that will be an important resource should you be in this situation.
Please contact us if you would like more information. We are happy to answer any questions you might have.