ID Theft

Resources for Victims of Identity Theft

Each year, thousands of people discover that they have become the victims of identity theft. If you find that an identity thief has opened an account with your information, made unauthorized charges to a credit card or bank account, or used your Social Security number for the purpose of obtaining employment, there are a few steps you can take to stop the thief and gain back control over your personal information.

Identity theft can happen via several avenues. An identity thief may steal your credit card number when you make a purchase. For example, an unscrupulous waitperson may copy your credit card number and CVV code, and then use the number to make a purchase. Another avenue that identity thieves often use is mail. An identity thief can steal a pre-approved credit card application from your mail and open an account using the application. Yet another method used by identity thieves is to gain access to your personal information, including your Social Security number, and use your information to get a job, rent an apartment or open additional accounts.

General Resources for Identity Theft Victims

No matter how your information was stolen or the purposes for which it is being used, you should file a police report. In addition, report the action to the FBI’s CyberCrime Division at ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx. Also, be sure to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on their complaint website at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

If you believe your personal information has been utilized to steal your identity or open unauthorized accounts in your name or with your Social Security number, place a security freeze on your credit information with each of the three credit reporting agencies.

Information for contacting the three credit bureaus to place a security freeze on your information:

  • Equifax: www.equifax.com
    Fraud Report Line: (800) 525-6285
  • Experian: www.experian.com
    Fraud Report Line: (888) 397-3742
  • Trans Union: www.tuc.com
    Fraud Report Line: (800) 680-7289

Resources for Victims of Mail Theft

If you believe a thief has stolen your mail, you may report this activity to the U.S. Postal Service. Complaints of stolen mail and potential identity theft are made to the U.S. Postal Inspector Service’s website at usps.com/websites/depart/inspect or postalinspectors.uspis.gov.

Resources for Victims of SSN Theft

If you believe an identity thief has stolen your Social Security number and is using your SSN for the purposes of employment or to obtain an apartment or any other reason, contact the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration will provide you with a report concerning your Social Security account. In addition, the agency will place an alert on your SSN in an attempt to locate and stop the identity thief. Contact the Social Security Administration online at ssa.gov/oig/ifyou.htm or by phone at (800) 772-1213.

Resources for Victims of Compromised Bank Accounts

If an identity thief has compromised your bank account, such as stolen a book or box of checks, notify the bank immediately. Each bank implements some type of action for theft of this sort. In many cases, the bank will cancel your account and open a new one for you. In other cases, the bank may nullify the check numbers for the checks that were in the book or box. If the thief attempts to cash one of the checks, the bank will be able to track and identify the thief.

Resources for Victims of Compromised Credit Card Accounts

If you believe an identity thief has made unauthorized charges on a credit or debit card, call the card company immediately. Report the unauthorized charge and follow up with any supporting documentation that they request. Credit card companies will often send forms that you will be required to complete and send back to them in a timely manner. Be sure to complete all forms and return them to the company via certified U.S. mail.

Follow up any online complaints by phone or over the internet with written statements sent via certified mail along with any documentation that may be required from you.

In addition to contacting the appropriate federal agencies and the three credit bureaus, be sure to contact the creditors who hold the fraudulent accounts. Notify them that you have been the victim of identity theft and ask them to work with you to resolve the situation. In some cases, they will cancel the debt or forgo reporting the account to the credit bureaus.

You may also want to contact your state’s Office of the Attorney General and file a report. Many states are taking aggressive action to combat identity theft and your state may be able to guide you with additional resources.