How to Report Stolen Identity

Identity theft can be one of the most damaging and difficult-to-repair forms of theft. As soon as you suspect that your identity has been stolen, you should take steps to report the theft and stop further damage. The earlier you can start the process, the easier it will be to remedy the situation.


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    Keep a log.[1] As soon as you suspect that your identity has been stolen, start taking notes to keep track of necessary information. You can keep the information as a digital document or as a hard copy, but having both a digital and paper record is even better.
    • Mark down the dates and times you talk with any financial institutions or government authorities. Also mark down the names of the people you talk with at those institutions.
    • Mark down any expenses or damages you take as a result of suspected identity theft. Having a list of expenses can be useful in your communications with financial institutions and authorities. Moreover, you can also deduct many theft-related expenses on your income tax return.
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    Place a fraud alert on your credit file.[2] There are three nationwide consumer reporting companies you can contact: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You only need to contact one. The company you contact is required to inform the other two, and all three will then place an alert on your credit report. When an alert is place on your credit report, anyone who uses that report must take additional steps to verify that anyone using your information is actually who they say they are. There are two basic types of fraud alerts that may be placed on your report.
    • An initial alert should be filed if you think you may be or may become a victim of identity theft. If your wallet is stolen or if you fall prey to a phishing scam, this is the alert for you. It expires after 90 days, and during that time, no changes to your credit can be made. You are also entitled to one free credit report.
    • An extended alert should be filed if you know for certain that you are a victim. You need to provide the company with an identity theft report, but the alert stays on your record for seven years. During that time, your name is removed from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers. You are also entitled to two free credit reports within one year.
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    Review your credit report. After filing with the credit bureaus, you will receive a credit report from each bureau. Comb through and scrutinize each report, looking for anything that seems out of place. Report these inconsistencies to the credit bureau that issued the report.
    • Verify that your personal information is correct. This includes your name, address, and Social Security number.
    • Look for fraudulent accounts or inquiries. A fraudulent account is any bank account or line of credit that was opened using your identity, even though you did not open it. A fraudulent inquiry is any inquiry into your credit record, such as an inquiry made by a car dealership or loan issuer, that you did not ask for.
    • Check for delinquencies that were not your doing.
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    Close or suspend suspect accounts. For each account that appears to have been tampered with in some way, call the company's security or fraud department. Report the theft of identity over the phone. The company will likely request that you also make out a paper record of your report. In this paper record, you should send copies of any supporting documents, such as your credit report. Send the note by certified mail and request a return receipt.
    • You should also ask the company for any appropriate forms that you can use to dispute false transactions made in your name. You may be able to get all or some of your money back. Ask for the company's records pertaining to the false transaction, as well.
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    Contact other affected agencies. If you suspect that someone may have used your Social Security Number to apply for a job or a driver's license, you should let the appropriate government agency know. Call the Social Security Administration to confirm that the earnings being reported for your name are correct. Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles to inform them that any recently applied for licenses are fraudulent.
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    File a local report with the police. Contact your local police department or the police department in the city where you suspect the crime happened. Bring as much evidence as possible, including your credit report and any statements from the accounts that were tampered with. Ask the officer filling out the report to list the tampered with accounts you know of on the police report, and then ask for copies of the report.
    • Note that if a local police station does not want to take the report, you can still file a "Miscellaneous Incidents" report or a report with the state police.
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    Fill out an Identity Theft Victim's Complaint and Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission.[3] Filing a federal complaint will allow law enforcement throughout the country to look for the criminal responsible for the theft of your identity. Moreover, with official documentation, creditors may be more willing to accept that you are not responsible for false accounts or transactions that were made in your name.


  • Get a free copy of your credit report every year. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. Receiving a free copy of your credit report, even when you do not suspect yourself to be a victim of identity theft, can help prevent major incidents of identity theft before they happen.
  • To contact the Federal Trade Commission by phone, call 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261).
  • You can call the three national credit bureaus by phone: Equifax - 1-800-525-6285; Trans Union - 1-800-680-7289; Experian - 1-888-397-3742
  • Know the signs of identity theft. Bank statements or credit card statements that have charges on them you cannot place are the first sign. Bills from companies you never bought from are another sign. Even if these charges seem minor at first, you should always be suspicious of any charge you cannot track to your own activity.
  • Similarly, your identity may have been stolen within the tax system if you receive a letter from the IRS stating that you filed more than one return or that you have a balance due during a year you did not file.[4]
  • When you open new accounts after closing your old ones, be sure to use new passwords and PIN numbers. Make sure that all your passwords are difficult to guess and different from one another. If possible, use a series of numbers, lowercase letter, capital letters, and characters.

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Categories: Social Security