What Should You Do if Your Identity is Stolen?

A recent article on Bankrate.com provides these helpful tips if you suspect you are or have been a victim of identity theft.

Here is a step-by-step guide to clearing your good name:

  1. Contact the three major credit bureaus. Equifax: (800) 685-1111; Experian: (800) 311-4769; and Trans Union: (800) 888-4213. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Include a statement that asks creditors to call you for permission before any new accounts are opened in your name.

  2. Contact creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened without your knowledge. Be sure to put complaints in writing.

  3. Alert the police that your wallet is stolen. Fill out a police report, and consider signing a written affidavit verifying that unauthorized transactions on your account are fraudulent. Send copies to creditors and credit bureaus as proof of the crime.

  4. Report the fraud to the Office of the Inspector General's fraud hotline at 1-800-772-1213.
  5. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While federal investigators only tend to pursue larger, more sophisticated fraud cases, they do monitor identity theft crimes of all levels in the hopes of discovering patterns and breaking up larger rings. The agency also has an online complaint form.

  6. Change account passwords. Avoid using your mother's maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number as a personal identification number.

  7. Notify the Social Security Administration (1-800-772-1213) to replace Social Security or Medicaid cards, the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver's license, and your telephone and utility companies to prevent a con artist from using a utility bill as proof of residence when applying for new cards.

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