The moment you learn your identity is stolen you’ll need to respond to identity theft quickly. Discovering you’re a victim of identity theft can be a stressful moment. Take a few moments to collect yourself. You have options but it will take some time. First, it’s important to gather all the information you’ll need to properly report the theft. Second, you’ll need to get on the phone or chat and to inform all parties involved. Lastly, you’ll need to contact a credit bureau.
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you should contact one of the consumer reporting agencies listed below to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
You only need to contact one of the three credit reporting companies to place an alert.
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
4 Steps to Respond to Identity Theft
Identity theft happens and here are immediate steps you can take when you’re a victim of Identity theft. Follow these steps:
Step 1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Contact the credit bureaus directly.
Step 2. Order your credit report.
If you file a fraud alert you’re entitled to a free report from all 3 credit bureaus.
Step 3. Review the credit report.
Make notes on any activity that you do not recognize. If you discover inaccurate or possible fraudulent activity, contact the lender or organization directly. Reach out to their fraud department and follow-up in writing.
Step 4: Create an identity theft report.
You can go to the FTC website to submit your report and make copies to provide to creditors, credit bureaus of police.
Note: Remember to record the dates, times, and people you’ve contacted so you have a proper timeline of events that can help you resolve the fallout from identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission has a great ID Theft Protection Resource to inform and provide information on what to do when ID theft happens.
How to Create an Identity Theft Report
What to do when identity (ID) theft happens to you?
- Submit a report about the theft to the FTC. When you finish writing all the details, print a copy of the report. It will be called an Identity Theft Affidavit.
- Go to the police. Bring your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit when you file a police report.
- File a police report about identity theft. Get a copy of the police report or the report number. Your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit and your police report make an Identity Theft Report.
Extend Fraud Alerts
If you’ve created an Identity Theft Report, you can get an extended fraud alert on your credit file. When you place an extended alert, you can get 2 free credit reports within 12 months from each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies, and the credit reporting companies must take your name off marketing lists for prescreened credit offers for 5 years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list. The extended alert lasts for 7 years.