Identity theft is, disturbingly, all too common. When someone steals your identity they are taking your personal information, like your Social Security number, credit card numbers or driver’s license number, and using it to commit fraud, make purchases and access bank accounts.
There are ways to protect yourself and minimize your losses, such as signing up for an identity theft protection service that monitors the Web for information that puts you at risk, alerts you to important changes to your credit report and insures you in the event your identity is stolen.
Steps to Correct Identity Theft
What do you do if you think your identity has been stolen? Here are some basics. For a more in depth look at preventing identity theft and repairing identity that has been tampered with, go to www.consumer.gov/idtheft/. You can also check out our easy-to-understand Guide to Protecting Your Privacy.
Start by contacting the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert asks creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts, and all three credit reports will be sent to you free of charge.
If possible, close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts. You can find a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit onwww.consumer.gov/idtheft/.
File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps them learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that they can better assist you.