What to Do if You’re the Victim of Identity Theft
Repair your good name and reputation.
Identity theft is a serious crime. Not only can your money and credit be stolen, your reputation can be compromised.
If you’re the victim of identity theft, you need to act quickly to repair the damage. Once your identity is in the wrong hands, it doesn’t take long for a thief to steal your money, make purchases or commit a crime in your name. Quick action on your part may keep a thief from doing more harm than they’ve already done.
Here are some ways to start the recovery process and restore your reputation.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting the three national credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experion and Trans Union. Such reports are free and the companies will work together to make it harder for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.
- To place a fraud alert with the credit reporting companies, you need to:
- Report that you are an identity theft victim.
- Ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit file and share it with the other credit reporting companies.
- Mark your calendar in case you need to renew your alert, which expires after 90 days.
- Order a credit report to verify any fraudulent activity or unauthorized purchases.
- Create an Identity Theft Report to help your recovery process.
- File a police report.
- Log all phone calls, written documents and electronic correspondence with date, time, contact person and subject details.
- Send all letters by certified mail. (Note: Sample letters are available from the Federal Trade Commission.)
- Keep copies of all documents you send and receive.
If you have fraudulent charges on any of your accounts, write the company and explain that you are an identity theft victim. You’ll need to:
- List the mistake.
- Tell why you disagree with the charges.
- Include any proof that you did not make the charges or open the account.
- Ask the company to remove the fraudulent information or close the account.
Also, ask the company to send you a letter confirming the charge has been removed from your account and credit report, and that you’re not responsible for the charge.