If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you should act as quickly as possible. Reporting a stolen identity immediately will make it easier to repair any fraud damage that has already occurred and can help minimize your risk for future losses.
When reporting a stolen ID, make sure you keep documentation of any phone calls you have to make, along with any letters you send. This documentation will be valuable if there is any dispute down the road about which steps you have already taken.
Identity theft reporting: A how-to guide
- If you have to report ID theft, the first thing you should do is contact one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) and ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. They are obligated to inform the other two bureaus, so you do not need to contact all three. Placing a fraud alert on your credit report will make it more difficult for criminals to open new accounts under your identity. A fraud alert asks any business or creditor to first verify your identity or contact you before they grant a new line of credit under your name. Your initial fraud alert will last for 90 days, so you may want to renew it after this point.
- After you have placed an initial fraud alert, you should contact your bank, credit card company and any other financial institutions. You should request to speak to someone in the fraud department and send a follow-up letter. Keep a copy of this letter for your records.
- In order to officially report stolen identities, you will need to contact the appropriate government agencies. You should first contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the agency that processes ID theft reports. After completing the FTC’s online form, you will want to print out a document called the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. Save this document for your records. Next, you should contact your local police and file a police report. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report and save it for your files.
- You should follow up with your bank and creditors and share the information in your Identity Theft Affidavit and police report. Find out if there is any additional information they need.
- Make sure you order a free copy of your credit report so that you can keep track of any possible fraudulent charges.
For more information, check out the protective measures recommended by ID theft protection services. Employing these protective measures now may keep you from having to go through the hassle of reporting this crime later.
Remember: You won’t need help with a stolen ID if you don’t become a victim in the first place.