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Your identity has been stolen, now what?

After receiving several calls from collection agencies and discovering multiple credit cards opened in your name, the reality finally hits you: Your identity has been stolen. You are now one of 14 million consumers who have become a victim of identity fraud. You must take action immediately.

Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred.

Ask to be connected to the fraud department of each of the companies. Explain that someone stole your identity. Ask the fraud department to close or freeze the account. Ask the fraud department to send you a letter confirming the fraudulent account is not yours, you are not liable and the charges were removed from your credit report.

If the company is not willing to do that, ask them to send you a fraud packet, so you can begin the process of disputing the fraudulent account.

Keep all correspondence you receive from the companies. Write down the name and contact information of the person you speak with.

Place a fraud alert, and obtain your credit reports.

Place a free, one-year fraud alert by contacting one of three credit bureaus: Experian.com/help, 888-397-3742; TransUnion.com/credit-help, 888-909-8872; Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services, 800-685-1111.

Get a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228. Review your reports, and make note of any account or transaction you do not recognize.

Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

Complete the online form or call 877-438-4338. The online form can be found here: identitytheft.gov. Obtain sample letters from the FTC to use when you’re writing to credit bureaus, banks or debt collectors. Sample letters can be found at identitytheft.gov/sample-letters.

File a report with your local police department.

Go to your local police office with a copy of your FTC identity theft report; a government-issued ID with a photo; proof of your address such as a mortgage statement, rental agreement or utilities bill; and any proof you have of the theft such as bills, IRS notices, etc.

Many companies will require a police report to be attached to the fraud packet you submit to dispute the fraudulent account.

Report to the proper agencies if your personal identification was stolen.

If information from your Social Security card, driver’s license or passport was stolen, you should contact the relevant agencies immediately so they are aware of the theft and can start the process of replacing them.

  • Social Security card: Contact the Social Security Administration for a replacement. If you suspect your Social Security number has already been used fraudulently, contact the Office of the Inspector General to report it.
  • Driver’s license: Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles to report the theft and obtain a replacement.
  • Passport: Contact the U.S. Department of State to report the theft and obtain a replacement.

Correct your credit report.

Write to each of the three credit bureaus. The letter should include the following: a copy of your FTC identity theft report, proof of your identity and an explanation of which information on your report came from identity theft. Ask them to block that information.

November 19, 2020