DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU Here are some straightforward ways to protect your ID and credit rating.
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What should I do if my identity has been stolen?

If you are a victim of identity theft, the immediate goal is to limit your losses as quickly as possible. At the top of the list is to contact your financial institutions – banks and credit card companies – to limit the damage to your credit score and overall finances. The next immediate step is to file a police report with an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to have a legal record of the event and to provide as much information as possible for local authorities to act on.

First Step: Close your credit cards and notify banks you have accounts with

The primary target for most identity thieves is your credit card, or perhaps more accurately, your credit card number. Regardless of whether your wallet has been stolen or your computer has been compromised and personal data has been stolen, the goal is to access the cash available on the card to withdraw it and to make immediate purchases using your card number. Closing your accounts as soon as possible prevents any further potential damage to your financial reputation.

If you have your credit card, call the number on back of the card to notify the company directly. If the physical card is not available, access their web site and look for the Contact or Help options to find the number to call. Another way is to dial 411 from your cell phone or landline phone. When reporting the stolen card, you will get assurances from the company of your liability limits, if any, and what steps will be taken to prevent future loss. Also, call your bank or credit union where you have savings and checking accounts, especially if you have a debit card, to alert them to the identity theft so your account can be monitored for any suspicious activity.

Second Step: Contact the credit reporting agencies

The three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, collect and make available information concerning your debt and repayment history for loans, mortgages, and other types of financial obligations. Notifying one of them immediately will prevent the identity thief from changing the address or other contact information that is on record. Each agency is required to notify the other two once a fraud alert request is received. It will also allow them to monitor your accounts and contact you in the event of any suspicious requests for a period of 90 days, after which the alert can be renewed.

Contact the credit agencies below. The credit agencies can assist with your request to monitor unusual activity on your accounts.

Equifax: (800) 685-1111

Experian: (888) 397-3742

TransUnion: (800) 916-8800

Third Step: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The federal government needs to collect information concerning identity theft to assist in tracking down those responsible, and to analyze and identify people who are targets of identity thieves. Information collected is also used to determine the methods currently being used to steal the identities of victims.

The contact number for the FTC is 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or the complaint can be filed online at

Fourth Step: Filing the Identity Theft Report

The purpose of filing the Identity Theft Report is to give you the power to begin to resolve any immediate damage that may have been caused by the thief. Credit reporting bureaus and businesses that opened up unauthorized lines of credit in your name are typical examples of companies you will potentially have to deal with, and filing the report helps deal with each of them.

Advantages secured by filing the Identity Theft Report are:

  • Extending the fraud alert initially placed on your accounts
  • Halting debt collection on fraudulently opened accounts
  • Obtaining information from companies about accounts that have been compromised and used by the identity thief
  • Having information that was the result of fraud removed from your credit report

Creating an Identity Theft Report is more than filling out the form.

  • Once the detailed report is completed, print out a copy of the report. This printed copy is called an Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Bring the Identity Theft Affidavit with you when you go to file the police report
  • After filing the police report, obtain a copy or the file number of the report
  • The Identity Theft Affidavit plus the police report create the official Identity Theft Report

These steps are the beginning of halting and repairing the damage created by identity theft. The Identity Theft Report demonstrates legal actions performed on your part, but what information is acceptable to a credit reporting agency may vary from company to company based on individual policies and policies of the businesses reporting the information. While the process can get complex, these initial steps lay a foundation to make future resolution of problems easier.