ID Theft Survival Plan
What to Do If You’re a Victim
While taking steps to protect your personal information can make stealing your identity more difficult, it can’t promise complete protection. If you find that your personal information has been misused, you can take steps to help remedy the problem. In most cases, you will probably be protected financially, but there is no compensation for the time it takes to sort out the mess.
Alert the Credit Bureaus
First, contact the fraud department at each of the three major credit bureaus to request that they place a “fraud alert” on your credit report. This alerts creditors to call you before opening any new accounts and hopefully stops any new activity without your approval. You should also order a copy of your credit report and review it for any unauthorized changes or accounts. Dispute any items (including addresses, jobs and accounts) on your credit reports that do not belong to you. Check your reports quarterly until the problem is resolved, and at least yearly afterward. You are entitled to a free credit report if you have been a victim of fraud, but you must request the report in writing.
If a family member has used your Social Security number to obtain employment, make purchases, or open accounts you still need to dispute that information on your credit reports. Even if the bills were paid on time, inaccurate information on credit reports can limit your ability to open credit accounts or make major purchases such as a car or a home. Be clear with your family member that they may not use your personal or credit information for any reason.
Contact Creditors and Financial Institutions
If a credit card or banking account has been tampered with, you should immediately contact their security or fraud department and close the account. If you open a new account, select a new password or PIN, and change passwords on all unaffected accounts as well. Follow up any telephone call with a certified letter, especially when it pertains to a credit card account.
File a Report
File a report with the local police department and keep a copy for your records.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which maintains the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse and provides information to identity theft victims. You can call toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338), send mail to: Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580, or you can file an ID Theft Affidavit online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft
If your mail has been stolen, notify your local postal inspector at www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect. Mail theft is a federal crime.
Notify the Social Security Administration if your Social Security Number has been misused. Call the SSA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271; fax: 410-597-0118; write: SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org