If Your Identity is Stolen

October 21, 2013

Read the information provied below. If you have further questions or need more information, please view the Federal Trade Comission's website on Identity Theft. 
Click here for a link that takes you directly to their page on how to recover from ID theft. 

Para informacion en Español sobre el robo de identidad, oprima aquí

Here are some immediate steps you should take:

   1. IMMEDIATELY contact your local police department to report the identity theft. Give the police as much information as you can about how you think the thief obtained your personal information. Sometimes that is easy, as when your pocket is picked or your purse stolen or your house burglarized. Sometimes, you will never have a clue as to how or why this has happened -- but contact the police anyway. You are doing so for two reasons -- first, to try and help the police investigate the crime and, perhaps, spare others. Second, and of equal or greater importance, you want to obtain a copy of the police report you have filed. This will help you establish with others (those who may have granted the thief credit in your name, as well as the various credit reporting agencies) that you are a victim of a crime, not a credit abuser. Since your theft is not a violent crime (like a burglary or an assault), some police agencies -- short on staffing --may be reluctant to accept your report.

IMMEDIATELY complete an FTC ID Theft Affidavit. This gives you a single, standard document to report your ID theft to multiple organizations.click here to obtain a document maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (an Adobe PDF file) that contains instructions for completing the document, the ID Theft Affidavit itself and the Fraudulent Account Statement.

When the police are reluctant to take your report, here's some suggestions from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission:

  • There are efforts at the federal, state and local level to ensure that local law enforcement agencies understand identity theft, its impact on victims, and the importance of taking a police report.  The following tips may help you to get a report if you're having difficulties:
  • Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your case. Debt collection letters, credit reports, your notarized FTC ID Theft Affidavit  and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help demonstrate the seriousness of your case.
  • Be persistent if your local authorities tell you that they can't take a report. Stress the importance of a police report; many creditors require one to resolve your dispute. Remind them that credit bureaus will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report, but only if you can give them a copy of the police report
  •  If you're told that identity theft is not a crime under your state's laws, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incident Report" instead.

2.IMMEDIATELY contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies. When you receive your reports, carefully review them for any signs of possible fraudulent activity. You are looking for such things as accounts you can't recall opening, inquiries about your credit from places you don't recall applying for credit, incorrect information (Social Security numbers, addresses, etc.). You should report any inaccuracies in writing to the appropriate agency, following the instructions they provide. The agencies will also provide you with assistance in interpreting your report.

Credit Reporting Agencies: Listed below are the contact addresses and telephone numbers for the three major credit reporting agencies:

Equifax -www.equifax.com

    * To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write:
      P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    * To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:
      P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    * Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.

Experian - www.experian.com

    * To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write:
      P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013
    * To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
      P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
    * Hearing Impaired/TDD: 1-800-972-0322

Trans Union - www.transunion.com

    * To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write:
      P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022
    * To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write:
      Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634 

3. IMMEDIATELY notify any credit grantor if you suspect fraudulent activity on one of your existing accounts and contact any credit grantor if you suspect the account was fraudulently opened.  

4. ONCE YOU HAVE DONE THESE THINGS, the need for additional actions and help depends a lot on how long the ID theft has been going on before you became aware of it. If you caught the theft immediately or relatively quickly (your purse was snatched or wallet stolen, for example), you may have nipped the threat of further damage in the bud. But if the thief obtained your personal information from various third parties, with bills and statements going to some other address, you may discover (as some victims have) that the thief has more accounts open in your name than you do. Sorting things out will not be easy, it almost certainly will be time-consuming, and how you tackle the problems will depend on what the thief has done. The Federal Trade Commission has prepared an excellent summary of the various types of problems you might encounter, with suggestions on how to tackle each one. You can go to that summary (Recovering from Identity Theft) by clicking here. 

What Help Can You Get

  •  Fraud alerts. You may call the toll-free number of any one of the three reporting agencies above and ask the customer service representative to place a "fraud alert" on your credit file. A fraud alert is designed to let potential creditors know that some form of fraud has been associated with your credit report. This will mean that potential creditors should confirm that they're really dealing with you and not some imposter. It can help prevent the thief from opening accounts in your name. You should know, however, that this may delay your obtaining credit yourself, since the credit grantor will need to contact you. As soon as any one of the three agencies confirms your fraud alert, that agency will send you a copy of your credit report; it will also notify the other two agencies, who will also send you copies of your report. These are sent free of charge, since they are associated with a fraud (You may be changed for subsequent copies at later dates).


  • Victim statements. A victim statement tell creditors to contact you before granting credit or other services. As with a fraud alert, a victim statement may cause you some delays in obtaining credit yourself while the credit grantor tries to contact you. If you have a cell phone, you may want to include that number in your statement.


  • Monitoring services. At the very least, all three reporting agencies will provide you with a copy of your report at any time for a relatively modest fee (your report may be free if you were denied credit within the recent past or you are the victim of a suspected fraud). In addition, all three agencies offer various types of credit monitoring services. For a somewhat larger fee, you can not only receive copies of your report at any time at no additional charge, but you can receive immediate notifications when significant changes happen in your credit file at one -- or all -- of the agencies. Depending on the agency, these might include such information as who has requested your credit report, any new credit accounts that have been opened or any other questionable activity. The agencies may also offer other benefits and fraud assistance to subscribers. Contact any of the three major credit reporting agencies for further information.


Fighting Back Against Identity Theft - Federal Trade Commission