Identity Theft: What To Do If It Happens To You
Act immediately and responsibly.
vitamin a soon as you realize your identity has been stolen, you must act quickly to minimize any wrong done to your finances and your personal credit record. Swift legal action may prevent the thief from making far use of your identity and may make the serve of restoring your credit evaluation easier. Please read this important information to help you proceed effectively. In addition to the information on our site, you will find good advice on the Federal Trade Commission ‘s ( FTC ) web locate, www.identitytheft.gov. You can reach the FTC Identity Theft Clearinghouse at 877-438-4338 .
Place an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit file.
Contact one of the three national credit report agencies ( Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ) and ask them to put an initial imposter alert on your recognition file. You only need to contact one of the agencies – that company must notify the other credit report agencies about your alert .
An initial imposter alert will make it more unmanageable for the identity thief to open more accounts using your information. After an alert is placed on your recognition file, a business must contact you and verify your identity before it can issue recognition in your name. Make certain that the credit coverage agencies have your current contact information so that they can get in touch with you as necessary.
Placing an initial imposter alarm is complimentary. The initial alarm stays on your report for 90 days and allows you to ordain one exempt copy of your credit report from each of the three credit report agencies .
Request your credit reports.
Remember that putting an initial fraud alert on your credit file entitles you to a rid credit report from each of the three credit report agencies. Contact each means, explain that you may have been the victim of identity larceny, that you have placed an initial fraud alert on your file and would like to ordering a copy of your credit report. It is beneficial to obtain a copy of your credit report from each agency as items may be reported differently on each agency ’ s report card .
Create an Identity Theft Report.
An identity larceny composition will help you when dealing with law enforcement officials, credit coverage agencies and creditors. You can use it to get information about the accounts the identity thief opened or misused, to have deceitful information removed from your accredit composition, to stop a company from collecting debts that result from identity larceny, or to place an cover fraud alert on your file .
To create an Identity Theft Report :
- Submit a complaint online to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). After you submit your information, you will receive a complaint reference number. Keep this number in a safe place, because you will need it if you need to update your complaint. Submission of your complaint to the FTC will generate an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit that you should save or print (when you complete the complaint online, look for and click on the words “Click here to get your completed FTC identity theft affidavit”). Make sure to save or print the Affidavit before you leave the screen, because you cannot save or print it after leaving the screen.
You may also file a complaint with the FTC over the phone by calling 1-877-438-4338 or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY). Make sure to ask the representative that takes your call for your complaint reference number and Affidavit password so you can access your completed Affidavit online.
- File a police report with your local police agency. In Georgia, identity theft is a felony under Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 16-9-121.
Provide the police a copy of your Identity Theft Affidavit, any other proof of the theft, proof of your address and a copy of a government issued photo ID. You may also wish to provide officials with a copy of the FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement, which explains to law enforcement officials how identity theft reports are important to victims. Make sure to request a copy of the police report or the report number to keep with your personal records.
The FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and police report, together, make up your Identity Theft Report.
Review your credit reports.
carefully review your credit reports. Check all key information, such as your name, address, social security phone number and employers. besides look for unauthorized charges, accounts that you did not open and any recognition natural process that is unfamiliar to you. Pay especial attention to the inquiry section of the credit composition. This section may give you clues as to which companies may be considering a credit application falsely submitted in your name. Inquiries are normally posted to your credit report before the actual false accounts appear and may represent the most current deceitful activity .
challenge errors : If you see errors on your recognition report, dispute them. Anyone can dispute incorrect information on their credit report by sending letters explaining the inaccuracy and request that the information be removed from your file. The dispute letters should be sent to :
– The three national credit chest of drawers ( sample challenge letter for credit agency )
– The fraud department of any business that reported an erroneous transaction on your existing accounts ( sample challenge letter for an existing history )
– The fraud department of any business that reported a raw report opened in your name but which you did not authorize ( sample quarrel letter for a new explanation )
once the credit rating report agency receives your quarrel, it will contact the commercial enterprise that reported the challenge data to investigate and determine whether the information is right. The representation has 30 days from when it receives your dispute to complete its investigation and must then notify you of the results of the investigation .
If the citation report representation determines the disputed information is inaccurate, incomplete or can not be verified, the agency must delete that information from your file and advise you. If information is deleted from your credit report, it can not be reinserted unless the business reporting the data certifies the data is complete and accurate, and the recognition coverage representation notifies you of the reinsertion .
The error may just be a reporting mistake of the credit report representation or of the business that reported the information. however, the error may mean that a thief has stolen your identity and is using your data to open newfangled credit in your name. If the errors are the consequence of identity larceny, create an Identity Theft Report and take steps to block the information from appearing on your credit report .
Block deceitful information resulting from identity larceny : credit report agencies should block identity larceny related information from appearing on a victim ’ s credit report. This includes unauthorized transactions, accounts and credit rating inquiries. To request a block of deceitful information, you must contact each citation report representation and provide :
– A copy of your Identity Theft Report
– proof of your identity, including your appoint, address, and sociable security number
– An explanation of what information on your report resulted from identity larceny and a statement that the information did not come from a transaction that you made or approved .
– A request that the agency block the deceitful information
If the recognition coverage means accepts your Identity Theft Report and your blocking request, it must block the deceitful information from your credit report within four days after accepting your report and must tell the business that sent the deceitful information about the blockage .
If the credit coverage means rejects your request, it can take five days to ask you for more proof of the identity larceny. The agency has 15 more days to work with you to get the information and five days to review the extra information you send. The agency may reject any information that you send after 15 days. The agency must tell you if it will not block data. You are allowed to re-submit your Identity Theft Report.
If you are an identity larceny victim, it is important to block deceitful information appearing on your credit report card, because a block will keep businesses from collecting, selling or transferring the deceitful debt in your name to a collection caller .
Alert individual businesses.
Contact every business where an account was fraudulently opened or where your information was misused. besides, contact any accredit issuer or solicitation agency listed on your recognition report card and any that have attempted to contact you to collect the debt. Ask each one about the condition of your report. Ask if the poster issuer has received any unauthorized charges, a change-of-address request, or a request for extra or successor credit cards .
For credit batting order companies, instruct the issuer not to honor any requests regarding your credit calling card explanation without written authority. Ask each accredit poster issuer to cancel your wag and provide a substitution tease with a new bill act. Your liability for unauthorized use of a credit circuit board can not be more than $ 50 by federal law. many creditors will waive the $ 50 if the victim provides documentation indicating identity larceny ( such as a police report or Identity Theft Report ) .
immediately follow-up each call address with a letter that notifies the business in writing that you are a victim of identity larceny. Confirm in your letter any natural process the occupation has agreed to take. As appropriate, include a copy of your Identity Theft Report and a letter explaining the disputed information that has been mistakenly reported to your accredit file. Keep a transcript of each letter in your file .
After the occupation receives your Identity Theft Report it should stop reporting the inaccurate information to the three national credit coverage agencies. however, the business is still allowed to try to collect the debt and to sell or transfer the debt to a solicitation company. In order to keep a occupation from collecting, selling or transferring a debt, you must contact the credit report agencies and ask them to block deceitful information .
Contact your bank.
If your bank bill information or checks have been stolen, or if a deceitful bank explanation has been opened using your recognition information, notify the bank involved immediately .
close your legitimate bank accounts and request newfangled explanation numbers. Ask your bank to honor only the outstanding checks you can verify you wrote. Or, contact companies with whom you have recently done business to explain why your check will not be honored. offer to replace the payment immediately with a money orderliness or a check from your new account .
Ask the bank to use a new singular identifier as a password or security feature for your accounts. Do not use your beget ‘s inaugural name, since this information is available in public records. Get a new ATM tease and PIN. Do not use your old password or PIN. Destroy all your old checks and do not use them .
If a merchant refuses your arrest and refers you to a discipline verification company ( a third-party caller which authorizes check cash and checking explanation privileges ), call the check confirmation company. Explain that you are the victim of identity larceny. If you can not open a check score because of the thief ’ south activities, contact ChexSystems at 800-428-9623, which is used by a majority of banks to verify applicants for new accounts .
Alert the issuers of your various forms of identification.
If you have lost your driver ‘s license, or if you suspect that person may be using your driver ‘s license number or a license fraudulently obtained in your identify, contact your local Driver ’ s License function ( listed under “ state government ” in your telephone directory ). In Georgia, you should get in touch with the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Their reach information is :
Georgia Department of Driver Services
P.O. Box 80447
Conyers, Georgia 30013
Web web site : www.dds.ga.gov
If you suspect that person else is using your Social Security issue for use purposes, request a transcript of your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement at 800-772-1213. If the instruction confirms a deceitful habit of your Social Security count, contact the U.S. Social Security Administration at 800-269-0271. If your Social Security number has become associated with dishonor checks and badly credit as a resultant role of identity fraud, it is possible in extreme cases to obtain a new Social Security phone number. In order to do then, your situation must fit the Social Security Administration ‘s criteria for issuing a second Social Security number. Contact the Social Security Administration for these specific criteria .
If you have a recommendation, notify your local anesthetic recommendation office that the identity thief may apply for a new passport using your identity .
Get copies of any documents the identity thief used.
Ask the business reporting the erroneous data to give you copies of any documents the identity thief used, such as credit rating cards applications with the “ applicant ’ s ” signature and transaction records. Under federal jurisprudence, the business must give you copies of these records for spare within 30 days of receiving your request, and verifying your identity and your identity larceny title. Provide copies of all documents received to the patrol officials investigating your font .
Consider placing a citation freeze on your credit file : When a freeze is in locate, credit report agencies may not release your credit charge information to merchants unless you temporarily remove the freeze or provide an individualize password to allow a finical merchant to obtain your credit information. A credit freeze means that creditors will not be able to get your recognition information without your anterior mandate, making it less likely that an identity thief will be able to open new accounts in your name .
In Georgia, residents can place a freeze on their credit file for detached with each of the three credit report agencies. even though a credit freeze keeps creditors from seeing your credit report information, you can temporarily lift the freeze – normally called a credit thaw – to allow temp access to your recognition file. When you request such a thaw, the information should be available electronically within 15 minutes of your requesting the thaw .
Placing a freeze on your credit file does not affect your credit score. besides, you can still get a release annual accredit reputation and do anything else that requires a recognition report, such as opening a new account, renting an apartment or applying for a caper .
Consider placing an elongated Fraud Alert on your credit file : once you create an Identity Theft Report, you can place an extend Fraud Alert on your credit file. An stretch alert is alike to an initial fraud alert except that it lasts for seven years unless you ask for the alarm to be removed before the end of that period .
After an alert is placed on your credit file, a business must contact you and verify your identity before it can issue accredit in your mention. besides, the extensive alarm will allow you to get two complimentary credit reports within a 12-month period from each of the three credit coverage agencies. additionally, the agencies must take your name off of market lists for prescreened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your mention back on the list.
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Consider opening a post office box alternatively of having mail delivered to your postbox. If you suspect that an identity thief has stolen your mail or has filed a change-of-address request in your list, notify your local anesthetic Postal Inspector. Call the U.S. Postal Service at 800-275-8777 to obtain the phone count of the nearest postal inspector .
To assure at least a biennial moratorium on pre-approved credit batting order offers and early solicitations you receive, you can call 888-5-OPTOUT toll-free and request that the major credit-reporting companies remove your name and address from any and all selling mail lists and promotions. Pre-approved citation card offers stolen from the mail much head to identity larceny .
- Create a log of all telephone calls that you make to correct your credit file. Keep a record of the date of each call and the names and telephone numbers of each person you spoke with. Prepare a list of questions before you call and make sure to write down answers so you can refer to them later.
- Follow up each telephone call with a letter that confirms the conversation and any agreed-upon action.
- Send letters and documents by certified mail return receipt requested. This receipt will serve as your proof that you sent the paperwork.
- Keep the originals of any documents or reports – send only copies.
- Create a filing system in which to orderly and safety keep all paperwork, letters, reports and other documentation exchanged. In complex identity theft cases involving credit, banking and loan fraud, an expandable file with multiple compartments may be the best choice. Consider keeping a “journal” of actions in a computer file that can be easily updated and printed when a copy is needed. A well-kept log, file or chronology of your actions is a must, and could aid the police in stopping the thief.
- Make a timeline in which you record all important dates and deadlines, such as when you must file requests, when a company must respond to you, etc.
Read our tips on how to reduce your hazard of identity larceny .