If you're a victim of identity
theft, act fast to protect your name and credit.
Follow these four steps immediately so you can prevent any further abuse
by identity thieves.
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three
major credit bureaus. By placing a fraud alert on
your credit report, creditors
must contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your
existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau you contacted confirms
your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified
to place fraud alerts. All three credit bureaus will send you your
credit report free of charge. The three major credit bureaus are:
Equifax P.O. Box
740241 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 Phone: 1-800-525-6285 Web site: www.equifax.com
2. Close all
fraudulent accounts. Call and speak with someone
in the security or fraud department of each company where a fraudulent account
was opened in your name. Close all accounts. Most likely they will
ask you to follow up in writing so that there is a written record for your
file. Some companies, especially your credit card company, will ask you
to sign an affidavit saying you did not make any purchases. Once the
affidavit is signed, they cannot hold you responsible for purchases or charge
you more than $50 to erase the fraudulent debts on the
Remember to send all correspondence via certified mail, return
receipt requested and keep copies. If you do not have to follow up in
writing, ask them to send you a written confirmation that the accounts were
3. File a police
report. File a police report and get
a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others who may require
proof of the crime.
4. File your
complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC). The FTC maintains a database of identity
theft cases which law enforcement agencies use for investigations.
Filing your complaint helps the FTC learn more about identity theft and the
problems victims are having.