IDENTITY THEFT WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT

Top Ten Clues
That Someone Has
Stolen Your Information

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail.
  • Merchants refuse your checks.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.

You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.

Introduction

You apply for a credit card and are turned down because of a low credit score, yet you know that you’ve always paid your accounts on time. A debt collector calls to demand payment on a six-month overdue account for a credit card you have never had. You receive a credit card in the mail that you’ve never applied for.

What’s happening? You could be the victim of identity theft, where an imposter is using your personal information to obtain credit. Then when the thief does not pay the bills, the company itself or a debt collection company contacts you to demand payment. As a result, your credit report is likely to contain negative information about your bill-payment history, and your credit score has probably been lowered considerably, making it difficult or impossible to obtain new credit yourself.

This guide provides victims of identity theft with instructions on how to regain your financial health and who to contact for more help. You must act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.

5 must do tasks when suffering ID theft

#1. Notify credit bureaus and establish fraud alerts

Immediately report the situation to the fraud department of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. When you notify one bureau that you are at risk of being a victim of identity theft, it will notify the other two for you. Placing the fraud alert means that your file will be flagged and that creditors are required to call you before extending credit. Consider using your cell phone number for faster notification.

Equifax:
P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241.
Report fraud:
Call (888) 766-0008
and write
to address above.
TDD:
(800) 255-0056
Web:
 www.equifax.com
Experian:
PO Box 9532
Allen TX, 75013
Report fraud:
Call (888-397-3742)
and write address above.
TDD:
Use relay to fraud number above.
Web:
www.experian.com/fraud
TransUnion:
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
Report fraud:
(800) 680-7289 and
write to address above.
TDD: (877) 553-7803
(Email Fraud Victims)
fvad@transunion.com
Web:
www.transunion.com

Consumers may "freeze" their credit reports with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By freezing your credit reports, you can prevent credit issuers from accessing your credit files except when you give permission. This effectively prevents thieves from opening up new credit card and loan accounts.

For state-by-state information on security freezes, visit this Consumers Union web page:

www.consumersunion.org/campaigns//learn_more/003484indiv.html

If your identity thief is aggressive and gives no indication of ceasing to use your identity to obtain credit, consider using the security freeze to reduce access to your credit file. The security freeze is free to victims of identity theft in most states. Non-victims who wish to activate the security freeze for prevention must pay a fee in most states. Some states make the security freeze available only to identity theft victims.

5 must do tasks when suffering ID theft

#2 Monitor your credit reports.

Be aware that fraud alerts may not entirely prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened by the imposter. Credit issuers do not always pay attention to fraud alerts, even though the law now requires it. That is why we recommend that you check your credit reports again in a few months.

The federal FACTA law enables you to receive a free credit
report per year from each of the three credit bureaus.
(FCRA §612) This is over and above the free reports you
can order when you place fraud alerts on your three credit
reports. Once you have received your free credit reports
as a part of the fraud-alert process, follow up in a few
months by taking advantage of your free FACTA copy. We
recommend that you order your free credit reports by
phone rather than using the online system. Call (877) 322-
8228.

For more on free credit reports, see http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/freereports/
index.shtml and www.annualcreditreport.com.
For a nominal fee, you can utilize a monthly service that provides activity alerts. If the monthly cost is within your budget, this is highly recommended over the free report system since you can be alerted immediately of strange behavior. Visit 3scores3reports.com for a $1 30 day trial.

5 must do tasks when suffering ID theft

#3 Law enforcement

Report the crime to your local police or sheriff's department right away. You might also need to report it to police department(s) where the crime occurred if it's somewhere other than where you live. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Make sure the police report lists the fraudulent accounts . Get a copy of the report, which is called an "identity theft report" under the FCRA. Keep the phone number of your investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case. Credit card
companies and banks may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime.

FTC regulations define an "identity theft report" to include a report made to a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency. If your local police department refuses to file a report and your situation involves fraudulent use of the U.S. mail, you can obtain an identity theft report from the U.S. Postal Inspector. If your case involves fraudulent use of a driver's license in your name, you might be able to obtain a report from your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. The FTC has more information on identity theft reports at
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html

#4 Federal Trade Commission

Report the crime to the FTC. Include your police report number. Although the FTC does not itself investigate identity theft cases, they share such information with investigators nationwide who are fighting identity theft.

  • Call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline: (877) IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)

Or use its online identity theft complaint form:https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

  •  Or write: FTC Identity Theft Clearinghouse, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

The FTC's uniform fraud affidavit form is available at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/affidavit.pdf

Visit the Web site for the President’s Identity Theft Task Force for Identity Theft Victims’ Statement of Rights under federal law: www.idtheft.gov/

5 must do tasks when suffering ID theft

#5 Contact Creditors

If your existing credit or debit accounts have been used fraudulently, report it in writing immediately to the credit card company.

Request replacement cards with new account numbers. In addition to phoning the credit card company regarding the fraud, you will need to follow up in writing and will likely be asked to provide a fraud affidavit or a dispute form. Send the letter to the address given for "billing inquiries," not the address for sending payments. Carefully monitor your mail and bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately. Add secure passwords to all accounts . These should not be your mother's maiden name or any word that is easily guessed.

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