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What to do if your identity has been stolen

(1) Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus* to place a fraud alert on your credit file (see below for instructions). The fraud alert requests 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. Once you receive your reports, review them carefully to make sure no fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts.

Please note: The automated “one-call” process only works for the initial placement of your fraud alert. Orders for additional credit reports or renewals of your fraud alerts must be made separately at each of the three major credit bureaus.

(2) Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use this ID Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) when disputing new unauthorized accounts. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor (for example, credit card companies, phone companies and other utilities, and banks and other lenders). It's particularly important to notify credit card companies in writing.

(3) File a police report--insist on it. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime. File the report with your city, county or state police. See our story called What if the police won't take an ID theft report? for more info.

(4) 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 us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.

(5) Keep records of everything you do to deal with this (calls, emails, letters, etc.)

(6) Follow up all calls in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Send letters to the companies which hold any accounts that were used fraudulently. Explain that you did not make the charges on your statement or that you never requested new credit that was issued. Include in the letter all factual information such as statements or other documents that back you up. Include a copy of your police report and a fraud affidavit. Also send letters to the credit bureaus explaining that someone has stolen your identity and what actions the thief has taken. Includes key facts including copies of statements, documents and police reports that back you up. Re-state that a fraud alert should have been placed on your credit file and that credit should not be granted unless you or your spouse is contacted for verification. Keep copies of everything for your files.

(7) You may also want to contact the following organizations :
+ Social Security Administration. If your SSN has been used in an unauthorized manner, call the Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0721 or access the Web site:
+ Department of Motor Vehicles. If a motor vehicle is involved.
+ Local Post Office and United States Postal Inspection Service. If mail fraud or a change of address is involved. The Web site is
+ Federal Bureau of Investigation. If fraudulent activity extends across state lines. The web site is
+ United States Secret Service. If counterfeit checks are involved, call (404) 331-6111 or access the Web site
+ U.S. Department of State. For lost or stolen passports. Their web site is
+ Internal Revenue Service. If fraudulent tax returns are involved. Access their Web site at

*How to contact the three major U.S. credit bureaus

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.

To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
TDD: 1-800-972-0322

Trans Union
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
TDD: 1-877-553-7803

Category: Consumer Tips
Posted on February 22, 2004 at 01:14 PM | Permalink


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im having huge issues right now someone has my checks and apparently an id as well except there 51 and im 22 and the police are giving me a run around on filing stolen checks my bank has cancelled and helped but i will not get my money back til this is proven and reviewed but id like some info on what i should do please1!?!?!?!?!?!?

Posted by: christopher forbes at Nov 30, 2005 9:45:52 AM