Are you a victim of identity theft? – Be proactive with these four steps:
Notify the Institution's fraud division by phone immediately, and do the following:
- Send a certified letter and/or email with a requested receipt confirmation.
- Maintain your original documentation for at least seven years.
- Close the accounts that you believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Be careful when you contact the companies of compromised accounts, as your credit score may be negatively affected if you choose to cancel credit card accounts.
Inform the creditor that you have reason to suspect you are the victim of fraud, and ask for the company's policy in situations like these. You may request that the account be assigned a new account number as a solution.
Notify the credit reporting and verification companies.
Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three
companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two companies, who will place an alert on your report as well. Placing a 90-day fraud alert on your file should alert creditors to contact you to verify that you want to open a new account.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Notify the police.
File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Then, get a copy of the police report or at the very least, the number of the report. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.
Notify the Federal Trade Commission.
If the financial institution is not supporting your efforts, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can file a complaint online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. If you
don't have Internet access, call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal
Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
Taking these simple steps will reduce the probability of becoming a victim. While they take some effort, it is time well spent. Recovering your identity once it has been
stolen can be frustrating and time consuming.