Some Ways You Can Tell Your Information May Have Been Stolen
- You receive calls about debts that aren’t yours
- You receive bills that you know you did not incur
- Bills or statements you normally receive don't show up
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you didn't make
- Your checks don't clear when there should be sufficient funds to cover them
- Your checks are refused by merchants
- Unfamiliar accounts or charges appear on your credit report
- You are notified by the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an unknown employer
- You receive medical bills for services you did not receive
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because their records show you’ve reached your benefits limit
- A health plan won’t cover a claim because you are being billed for a condition your records don't show you have
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account. When the organization that lost your information lets you know about the breach, they should explain your options.
Immediate Steps to Prevent and/or Repair Identity Theft
If your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information are lost or stolen, and you take action quickly, you can stop a potential identity thief from doing more damage. Be sure to check your bank and other account statements and report any unusual activity, and follow these steps as soon as possible:
Place a Fraud Alert
If you believe that you have been (or are about to become) the victim of identity theft or fraud, you should place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three main nationwide credit reporting companies. Confirm that the company you call will contact the other two companies. Be sure the credit reporting companies have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you. The alert lasts 90 days, but can be renewed, so be sure to mark your calendar. Note that a fraud alert does not prevent a lender from opening credit in your name, but it does require a lender to take certain measures to verify your identity first.
Order Your Credit Reports
As you may already know, you can request a free credit report from each of the three main nationwide credit reporting companies once every 12 months. By staggering your requests, you can get a report every four months. If you have already used up your three free credit reports within the past 12 months, for a nominal charge (typically $10 to $15) you can get a current report. Review your credit reports carefully, and if you find any unfamiliar accounts or charges, report them immediately. Following is the contact information for the three main credit reporting companies:
- Equifax - 1-800-525-6285 or www.Equifax.com
- Experian - 1-888-397-3742 or www.Experian.com
- Transunion - 1-800-680-7289 or www.Transunion.com
Create an Identity Theft Report - An Identity Theft Report gives you some important rights that can help you recover from the theft.
Submit a report about the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftc.gov/ . When you finish writing all the details, print a copy of the report. It will be called an Identity Theft Affidavit
Bring your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit when you file a police report
File a police report about the identity theft, and get a copy of the police report or the report number. Your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and your police report make an Identity Theft Report.
Update Your Files
Create a log and record the dates you made calls or sent letters
Record the date of each call and the names and telephone numbers of everyone you contact. Prepare your questions before you call and write down the answers
Send letters by certified mail and ask for a return receipt. Send copies of your documents and reports, and keep the originals.
You can also submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ or by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372).
The above steps should help stop the immediate damage resulting from identity theft. If you are a victim of identity theft and have created an Identity Theft Report there are some additional steps you can take to help prevent or address other issues which may arise. The following Federal Trade Commission (FTC) site provides information on placing an extended fraud alert and/or a credit freeze on your credit file: