If you suspect that you’ve become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately and follow this checklist to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation.
The following list is based on a checklist prepared by the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse:
- Notify the fraud divisions of all 3 major credit bureaus that you have been a victim of identity theft and put a fraud alert on your files. Start with Initial Fraud Alert as first aid, and after you file an Identity Theft Report with the police department, use it to put an Extended Fraud Alert (Use this Fraud Alert Contact List).
- Consider locking your credit reports. Putting a security lock on your credit reports cost money, but blocks identity theft more effectively than fraud alert.
- Immediately change all of your passwords for all of your accounts. Consider also changing ATM cards, PIN numbers etc.
- File a police report (identity theft report) with your local police department. A police identity theft report is mandatory for various actions (e.g. Extended Fraud Alert, Closing Accounts, blocking creditors and more).
- If you have been contacted by a debt collector, send him a copy of the police report and tell him that the debt is not yours and that your identity has been stolen. State that reporting the debt to the credit bureaus is violation of federal laws. Also tell him to stop calling you.
- Contact all three major credit bureaus and pull extra copy or your credit report (You are entitled to one/two additional credit reports on top of your free annual credit report in case that you’ve put an Initial/Extended Fraud Alert). Go through each of these reports thoroughly and mark every account that is not yours.
- Dispute the accounts that are not yours. Include a copy of the police report.
- Immediately close any accounts that have been fraudulently opened in your name and follow up with those lenders in writing.
- Consider notifying your local postal inspector if you suspect that the identity thief opened accounts in your name by stealing your mail.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to check whether someone was/is using your name or social security number to obtain a driver’s license.
- Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify that your name and SSN are NOT being used to fraudulently apply for a job (1-800-269-0271).
- Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you suspect that an improper use of your identification information in connection with tax violations has been made (1-800-829-0433).
- File a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form, or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338), TTY: 1-866-653-4261, or write to Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
For more information see the FTC’s Identity Theft Information Center.