What To Do If You're a Victim
According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft complaints are broken down as follows:
- About 50 percent reported that a credit card was opened in their name.
- 25 percent reported that the thief established new telephone, cellular, or another service in their name.
- 16 percent reported that a bank account was opened in their name, or unauthorized withdrawals had been made from their account.
- 9 percent reported that the thief obtained a loan in their name.
- 8 percent reported that the thief obtained a fraudulent document such as a driver's license.
Recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission Website
If you suspect that someone has used your name, Social Security number, or other personal information to get credit or a loan, the following steps can help.
- Keep a record. Because recovering from identity theft can be a long and complicated process, it's important to keep a record of all communications. Send all letters by certified mail and keep copies. If you think your case might lead to a lawsuit, keep track of how much time you spend dealing with the problem.
- Call the police. Report the crime to the police or sheriff's department that has jurisdiction in your case and request a police report. Though the authorities are often unable to help, a report may be necessary to help convince creditors that someone else has opened an account in your name.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission. Call the FTC's identity theft hotline at 877-438-4338 and file a complaint. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer problems itself, but your complaint may lead to law enforcement action.
- Check your credit report. Get your credit report and check for any new accounts opened in your name. Because new accounts may take up to six months to show up on the report, continue to monitor your credit report.
- Contact the Three Credit Reporting Agencies. Have them put a fraud alert on your file, which will aid in preventing new credit accounts from being opened without your express permission.
- Freeze fraudulent accounts.Contact the appropriate creditors, banks, phone companies, and utility companies and have them freeze the accounts. You'll probably be liable for only $50 of the fraudulent charges, but different issuers have different policies. Most creditors promptly issue replacement cards with new account numbers. You may also need to contact one or more of the following government bodies, each of which will inform you of the necessary procedures.
- Mail fraud If you suspect that someone has changed your address with the post office or used the mail to commit identity theft, notify the U.S. Postal Inspector.
- Fraud using your Social Security number If your Social Security number has been used to commit identity theft, call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. You can order a copy of your earnings and benefits statement to check whether someone has used your Social Security number to get a job or to avoid paying taxes.
- Fraud involving your driver's license number If your driver's license number has been used to open accounts or verify checks, contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Fraud involving your passport Notify the Passport Services Department, U.S. State Department, of the identity theft so that it can intercept anyone ordering a new passport in your name. Telephone Number: 877-487-2778
- Fraud involving a business scam If the fraud was perpetrated as part of a business scam, contact the National Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.
- Bankruptcy filed using your name If someone filed for bankruptcy using your name, write to the U.S. Trustee in the region where the bankruptcy was filed. Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your identity. A listing of the U.S. Trustee Program's Regions can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/ust/.