Victim's Action List
You are an identity theft victim. What do you do?
Most victims experience a wide range of emotions when they discover someone has been using their name to commit fraud. It's a very frustrating time but there is a lot you can do.
Don't give up. Get organized and fight back.
Read the information on this page and this resource from the FTC, Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft
Take good notes
Grab a pad of paper and a pen. You need to take accurate and thorough notes as events and conversations occur. There will be a lot of activity initially. Transfer your notes to a word processor document if you have a computer. A table with the following categories works well. Ideally, you'll be able to sort the table by company name, date, etc. A sorted table can be very handy when you are doing follow-up actions. You may end up in court someday. Good notes will be valuable.
Download a victim action checklist in Microsoft WORD format to assist in organizing your efforts. Also download this Federal Trade Commission guidebook for assisting ID theft victims. Look for the section titled " Checklist for General Steps Addressing Identity Theft".
||Point of contact - name and phone
||Officer John Doe
|Filed police report. Gave officer my completed ID Theft Victim's Complaint & Affidavit form. Asked officer to submit an NCIC Identity Theft File report.
||Bill Smith, manager, (110)555-1212
||Will accept standard affidavit. He said he'll submit a correction to my credit bureau account.
||Mailed affidavit to Bill Smith. Certified mail receipt number 123678.
||George Johanson, fraud department supervisor. (110)226-3232
||George said he'll mail copies of the fraudulent applications to me after my written request arrives at his office. He closed the fraudulent account.
|Talked to Bill Smith. Verified that he received my affidavit mailed on Sep 9, 2013.
- Date -use a format like yyyy mm dd to improve sorting
- Company/Agency - be consistent with names to improve sorting.
You will accumulate a multitude of documents very quickly. It helps to organize them in a 3-ring binder
as soon as possible.
Keep track of how much money you spend while fighting your identity thief. In September 2008, President Bush signed the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008. This law requires that in cases where convicted ID thieves are ordered to pay restitution, the convicted thief will pay the victim an amount "equal to the value of the time reasonably spent by the victim in an attempt to remediate the intended or actual harm incurred by the victim from the offense." Unfortunately, the law doesn't provide restitution for the lost opportunities the victim suffers because of their thief. The law is a step in the right direction and its good to know there is a tool to increase the punishment of the identity thief for those victims lucky enough see their thief be convicted in court.
Order your credit reports
Order your credit reports online to have immediate access to your thief's activity.
It's worth spending the few dollars ( if required ) to get immediate access to at least one of your credit reports so that you can start fighting back today. You can get an immediate online version of your credit reports for free if you haven't taken advantage of your free annual reports through www.annualcreditreport.com.
You're also entitled to a free credit report from each credit bureau when you submit a fraud alert. Contact the credit bureaus if you don't receive a letter from them within 10 days following your fraud alert submission. The letter will explain the method to obtain a free credit report from them.
Ideally you want to submit the fraud alert first. I suggest getting your credit report first because a fraud alert may prevent you from gaining access to your credit report online. Submit a fraud alert as soon as possible.
Submit fraud alert
Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name. The Fair and Accurate Transaction Act (FACTA) added a new section to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that provides for three varieties of alerts that consumers may add to their files with nationwide consumer reporting agencies -
- Fraud Alert
- Extended Fraud Alert
- Active Duty Fraud Alert
The alerts differ in their initiation requirements, time periods, and limits on creditors. All three varieties of alerts must state that the consumer does not authorize new credit (other than an extension under an existing open-end credit account, that is, a credit card), an additional card on an existing account, or any increase in the credit limit of any existing account.
Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports. Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Verify information, like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed. See the Federal Trade Commission's guidance on Correcting Fraudulent Information in Credit Reports to learn how. Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
- Fraud alert -
- Creditors must utilize "reasonable
policies and procedures" to form a reasonable
belief that the creditor knows the identity of the person making a credit request.
- Alert stays active for 90 days.
- Consumer can request one free credit report from each bureau.
- A fraud alert at any of the credit bureaus automatically initiates an alert at the other two.
- Call any of the following numbers 24 hours a day:
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
- You can also submit alert online.
- Extended fraud alert -
- Consumers may provide a telephone number in the alert which the creditor must use to
verify the requester's identity unless the consumer designated another reasonable method of contact.
- Alert stays active for 7 years.
- Consumer must submit an identity theft report which includes a report from a law enforcement agency.
Consumer is subject to criminal penalties for submitting false reports.
- Consumer is removed from marketing lists for 5 years, which the bureaus sell to lenders and
insurance companies for use in solicitations.
- Consumer can request two free credit reports from each bureau within 12 months of
submitted extended fraud alert.
- Active duty alert -
- Consumers on active military duty can add an alert of their status to their files.
Consumers on active duty include reservists who are on active duty, other than at their
usual station. Once a military consumer requests the active duty alert, it will become
part of his/her credit report for a 12 month period.
- Consumer is removed from marketing lists for 2 years, which the bureaus sell to
lenders and insurance companies for use in solicitations.
- Does not entitle consumer to free credit report.
- Creditors must utilize "reasonable policies and procedures" to form
a reasonable belief that the creditor knows the identity of the person making a credit request.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission and the ITRC
The FTC is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission helps victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for action.
Before calling the police
, complete an ID Theft Victim's Complaint & Affidavit
form which collects information that will be helpful to you and the police. You can print the completed form to give to police. You can also contact the FTC by:
- telephone: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502. This number is answered by a representative that will provide advice and immediate actions you can take.
- mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20580
- Online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft
You can also contact the Identity Theft Resource Center
(ITRC) to ask for assistance. Send the ITRC an email at Victims@idtheftcenter.org
or call the ITRC Victim Assistance Center Toll Free (888) 400-5530.
Make a police report
Try to make a report with the local police and the police department(s) with jurisdiction where your identity thief is using your name. Some identity theft victims have reported resistance from the police department to file a report. Be persistent. Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your case. Debt collection letters, credit reports, your notarized ID Theft Affidavit
, and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help the police file a complete report. Ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incidents" report if the police are reluctant to take your report. Provide the officer with a copy of the Law Enforcement Cover Letter
that explains why the police report and the Identity Theft Report are so important to both victims and industry. You can also try another jurisdiction, like your state police.
Ask the police to submit an Identity Theft File to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This provides a means for all law enforcement officers around the country to discover a potential identity thief when they run a query into the NCIC system. This can happen when the police pull over your thief for a normal traffic stop.
The combination of an ID Theft Affidavit and your police report make an Identity Theft Report which can be used to:
- Get fraudulent information removed from your credit report
- Stop a company from collecting debts that result from identity theft, or from selling the debt to another company for collection
- Place an Extended Fraud Alert on your credit report
- Get information from companies about accounts the ID thief opened or misused
Even if the police can't catch the identity thief in your case, having an Identity Theft Report can help you when dealing with creditors.
Identity Theft Passport
Some states have an Identity Theft Passport program that helps victims prove to law enforcement and creditors that their identity has been used fraudulently. Apply for an ID theft passport after you have completed a police report. Contact your Attorney General office if you have questions. This NCJRS site
lists ID theft programs for each state
Contact your financial interests
Report the identity theft to your credit union, credit card issuers, and any other activity that you have a financial relationship with. Add a password to your account if you haven't done so previously (don't use your mother's maiden name). Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Many of these institutions have a full time staff to work with fraud cases. Some fraud departments operate in the late evening hours so don't wait until the next day to start your fraud reporting. Search the company web sites for access to the fraud department telephone numbers.
Most financial institutions will want you to complete an affidavit that provides information about the fraudulent activity. The Federal Trade Commission provides a standard affidavit
form that may be acceptable to most of the institutions.
Some fraud departments represent several different businesses. Ask them to search all of their databases for fraudulent activity using your social security number.
It's important to follow up in writing. Mail all correspondence to the fraud departments with certified, return-receipt mail. Pick up several blank forms from the post office to save time on future mailings. You can check the delivery status of certified mail online
The fraud departments may ask for notarized documents. Ask them to waiver this requirement. The costs start to add up.
Contact each merchant your thief did business with
The credit reports show where your thief has been spending your money and contact info for each merchant. Call each merchant to inform them of the theft and request copies of credit applications, charge slips, etc implemented by your thief. Ask them to submit corrections to the credit bureaus to remove entries from your credit report. Take good notes of your conversation and follow-up your conversation with a letter sent by certified, return-receipt mail.
Section 609e "Information Available To Victims" of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)requires businesses to provide this information if the victim makes the request in writing. Companies must provide the records at no charge to you within 30 days of receipt of your request and supporting documentation. The company may ask for proof of your identity, a copy of the police report and a completed affidavit.
You may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. You must send your request to the address specified by the business that reports the information to the consumer reporting agency. The business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide an identity theft report
File disputes with credit bureaus
The credit bureaus and the organization that provided the information to the bureau have a responsibility to correct errors and entries caused by your identity thief. File a dispute
with each bureau that is reporting incorrect information and the company that submitted the information. TransUnion
, and Equifax
all have dispute information online.
Identity theft is not the only cause for credit report errors. A 2004 study found that one in four credit reports contains errors serious enough to cause consumers to be denied credit, a loan, an apartment or home loan or even a job.
Contact check verification companies
Contact the major check verification companies if you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up by an identity thief. Inform the verification companies that you are an identity theft victim. Keep notes and follow up with a letter.
Submit a ChexSystems security alert by visiting this link or calling 888 478-6536. ChexSystems customers will be notified of the security alert each time they inquire about you. The security alert may prevent your identity thief from opening a bank account in your name.
You can submit a 90-day or 5-year alert. You will have to complete an affidavit form.
Make sure your bank submits a report to the ChexSystems Lost or Stolen Check Hotline which alerts retailers and other banks to the missing checks or information. Insist that your bank contact ChexSystems if they're not aware of the hotline.
- CheckRite - 1-800-766-2748
- ChexSystems - 1-800-428-9623 (closed checking accounts)
- CheckCenter/CrossCheck - 1-800-843-0760
- Certigy/Equifax - 1-800-437-5120
- National Processing Company (NPC) - 1-800-526-5380
- SCAN - 1-800-262-7771
- TeleCheck - 1-800-710-9898
Contact utility and service provider companies
Contact utility and service provider companies such as: the local telephone company; long distance telephone company; cable company; internet service provider; and electric, power, gas or water providers. Alert each company or service provider of the theft of your identity and inform them that attempts may be made to open new service using your identification information. Request that any new request for service be confirmed with you and provide a telephone number and mailing address. Keep a copy of all of these requests.
Collection agencies may contact you about debts created by your thief. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debt you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief - like the name of the creditor and amount of the debt.
The Collection Agencies and Identity Theft fact sheet at the ID Theft Resource Center is a good source of information on this topic.
The IRS publication “Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance” is available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4535.pdf.
Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information which includes any type of electronic communication, such as as text messages and social media channels.
Fraudulent tax return-related identity theft increased nearly six percentage points from 2006 through 2008. The IRS opened the Identity Protection Specialized Unit on October 1, 2008. This unit will help resolve identity theft victims' issues when previous contacts with the IRS have not resolved a fraudulent tax issue. Victims can call a dedicated toll-free number, 800-908-4490, Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. your local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Time). They will want a police report or a completed IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039
The unit will reduce taxpayer burden by providing individualized assistance, including:
- A single customer service representative to work with each identity theft victim to answer questions and resolve his or her issues.
- A simplified process to verify taxpayer identity and identity theft.
- A place for taxpayers to self-report identity theft before it impacts their tax accounts
- A place for taxpayers to self-report incidents where they may be at risk for identity theft because their personally identifiable information has been compromised (for example, stolen purse/wallet).
- In addition, the unit will assist taxpayers who have already had their tax accounts impacted by identity theft but have not yet had their issues resolved. The unit will refer taxpayers to the IRS area that is working the identity theft issue and also collaborate with that area to monitor the case through resolution.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost/stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity, credit report, or other activity, you need to provide the IRS with proof of your identity.
You should submit a copy, not the original documents, of your valid Federal or State issued identification, such as a social security card, driver's license, or passport, etc, along with a copy of a police report or Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Affidavit. If the FTC Affidavit is not notarized, a witness (non-relative) must sign it.
Please send these documents using one of the following options:
| Mailing address:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 9039
Andover, MA 01810-0939
|FAX: Note that this is not a toll-free fax number
Submit a complaint
to the U.S. Post Office if you suspect your identity thief used your mail.
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, provides a method to prevent anyone from looking at
your credit report without your involvement. You have to provide a personal identification number (PIN) to
the credit bureau to "thaw" out your credit report and allow access by someone you authorize.
This will stop your thief from applying for new credit where a merchant requires a credit report to authorize credit.
You have to contact each credit bureau where you want to implement a credit freeze. How much does it cost? The laws controlling the cost to freeze and thaw your credit account vary from state to state.
It's free for identity theft victims in most states. Get your police report to prove that you are an ID theft victim and you may get this protection for free. Visit this Consumer's Union
site to read about laws for your state.
You can report a stolen or lost passport
by phone or submitting a DS-64 form
through the mail.
Operators are available 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. ET Monday-Friday, excluding federal holidays
||Complete, sign and submit Form DS-64: Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport to:
U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Stolen Driver License
Report your stolen license to the police. Bring your police report to your local driver license bureau and try to convince them to declare the stolen license as fraudulent and
issue you a new driver license number. You may encounter resistance. The driver license bureau may want proof that your license was used in a crime. Elevate your request to the supervisor if you need to.
Getting the stolen license identified as fraudulent may prevent the thief from opening a bank account in your name and may lead to an arrest if he presents your license to a police
officer during a traffic stop or other situation.
Stolen Birth Certificate
Make a police report to have proof you reported the theft.
Report a stolen or lost birth certificate to the agency that maintains the record of your birth such as the Bureau of Vital Statistics that serves the town where you were born. Some states will flag your record to require a picture ID for future issuance of records in an effort to protect you from identity theft.
Stolen Social Security Card
Social Security does not take reports of a lost or stolen Social Security cards or numbers. If you have lost your card, you may apply for a replacement but Social Security takes no action just because it has been lost or stolen.
Keep excellent records and follow up on actions to ensure problems are resolved. Getting fraudulent entries cleared from your credit reports can be a slow and frustrating process. Be patient, but persistent. The Fair Credit Reporting Act
provides regulations on the process of correcting credit report errors.