What to do?
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, print and follow this checklist.
- File a report with your local police or in the community where the identity theft occurred. Get a copy of the police report. You will need this to demonstrate to credit card companies and other lenders that you have been victimized.
Contact one of the credit bureaus’ fraud departments:
- The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report too. Once you place a fraud alert in your file, you are entitled to order free copies of your credit reports.
- Close all unauthorized accounts or accounts that have been tampered with. The FTC provides an identity affidavit that you can use on its website.
- Keep good records. One of the unsettling aspects of identity theft is that it can haunt you for years after the crime has occurred. Documenting your case will provide your best defense. Along with copies of police reports and affidavits, you should keep records of phone calls, along with names of individuals you spoke with and dates of the calls. Follow up phone calls in writing, using certified mail.
- Most fraud alerts expire in three to six months; that may not be long enough to protect you. Send a letter to the credit bureaus requesting that the alerts remain on your account for seven years, the maximum that most allow. You can always cancel the fraud alert before then.