If you become a victim of Identity Theft, it is important to act immediately to stop the thief's further use of your identity. Unfortunately, at this time victims themselves are burdened with resolving the problem. It is important to act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage. In dealing with authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, dates, names, and telephone numbers. Note the time spent and any expenses incurred. Confirm conversations in writing. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime.
Send correspondence by certified mail (return receipt requested). Keep copies of all letters and documents. Sometimes victims of Identity Theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by an imposter. If a civil judgement has been entered in your name for actions taken by an imposter, contact the court where the judgement was entered and report that you are a victim of Identity Theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted of criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI. Ask how to clear your name.
We suggest you also do the following:
- Report the crime to your local police or sheriff department immediately. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Obtain a copy of all police reports. Keep the telephone number of your fraud detective/investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case. Credit card companies, banks, and insurance companies may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime. Some police and sheriff departments have been known to refuse to write reports on such crimes. Be persistent!
- Immediately contact (by telephone and in writint) all creditors with whom your name has been used fraudulently. Obtain replacement cards with new account numbers for your own accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (This is better than "card lost or stolen," because when this statement is reported to credit reporting bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately to credit grantors.
- Finally, speak with the detective investigating your case, he or she may be able to assist you in obtaining a fingerprint comparison if the suspect has ever been arrested or has used your name during an arrest. You may be able to obtain information regarding any warrants connected to the arrest, this may also help in reestablishing your credit or obtaining a new social security number.
CREDIT REPORTING BUREAUS
Contact credit reporting bureaus for names and telephone numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask the credit reporting bureaus to remove inquiries that have been generated due to the fraudulent access. You may also ask the credit reporting bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the last six months in order to alert them to the disputed and erroneous information.
The nearest office of the Cunsumer Credit Counseling Service of Los Angeles might be able to give you advice on removing fraudulent claims from your credit report. Call 800-388-2227.
Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus, i.e., Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report, up to 100 words. ("My Identification has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at (telephone number) to verify all applications.") Be sure to ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your account, and how you can extend it if necessary. Be aware that these measures may not entirely stop new fraudulent accounts from being opened by an imposter. Ask the credit bureaus in writing to provide you with free copies every few months so you can monitor your credit report.
To report fraud call: 800-525-6285 or 800-685-1111
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To dispute information in credit report write: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit write: Equifax Options, P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
EXPERIAN (formerly TRW)
To report fraud call: 800-301-7195 or fax 800-301-7196
To contact Experian Consumer Fraud Assistance write: P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013
To order a copy of credit report write: P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-2104
To dispute information in credit report contact: Experian at the address or telephone number provided on your credit report.
To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists call: 800-353-0809
To report fraud call: 800-680-7289
to report fraud write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
To order a copy of credit report write: P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064 or call 800-916-8800
To dispute information in credit report call: 800-888-4213
Telephone number provided on credit report or use "investigation request form" provided by Trans Union when you order your report.
To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists call: 888-5OPTOUT
Remember, if you have been denied credit you are entitled to a free credit report. If you are the victim of fraud, be sure to ask the credit reporting bureau for a free copy of your credit report. In 1997, a law became effective requiring credit reporting bureaus to provide credit reports free of charge to victims of Identity Theft.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
If your Social Security number has been used fraudulently, report the problem to the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 800-269-0271. You may also order your Earnings and Benefits Statement by call the SSA at 800-772-1213. For extreme cases of Identity Theft, they may be willing to change your Social Security number.
DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION
To remove your name from mailing lists write to: Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735
To remove your name from telephone lists write to: Telephone Preference Service, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735.
When Identity Theft occurs, you need to act quickly, know what to do, who to contact and fully understand your rights under the law. Identity Theft exerts great emotional distress on its victims. Damage containment in each fraud case depends on how deeply the imposter has invaded your personal, professional and financial life. There are many preparatory actions one can take to prevent Identity Theft.
This information is meant to educate consumers. You can never be too careful, prepared, or aware. Share this information with family and friends. Schedule family discussions, ensure everyone is aware and prepared in the event an identity thief strikes.