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Prevent Being a Victim of Identity Theft

Important Actions to Take if You Become a Victim of Identity Theft

It seems that security breaches are now becoming as common in the news as a weather forecast. Should your personal information fall into the wrong hands, what should you do?

If you become a victim of identity theft, here are steps you should take right away to try to limit the damage.

  1. Check Credit Reports

Visit annualcreditreport.com regularly to be aware of any suspicious activity. Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below or visit their websites:

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; transunion.com

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; equifax.com

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); experian.com

  1. Close Tampered Accounts

Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (not originals) of supporting documents. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of everything you send and a record of every conversation.

  1. File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

You can file a complaint online or by calling the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.

  1. File a Report with Local Police

Make sure to report your incident in the community where the identity theft took place. Call and ask them if you need to file the report in person or if you can do it over the phone or online. When you file your report, bring or attach a copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint form and any supporting documentation. Ask the officer to attach or incorporate the ID Theft Complaint into their police report. The FTC ID Theft Complaint, along with the police report, can constitute what is known as an Identity Theft Report.

This Identity Theft Report can be used to:

  • Permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report.
  • Ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report.
  • Prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft.
  • Place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.

Contributed by Chris Miller
February 6, 2019