What to do right away
Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Call the fraud department. Explain that someone stole your identity.
- Ask them to close or freeze the accounts. Then, no one can add new charges until you agree.
- Change logins, passwords, and PINS for your accounts.
Step 2: Place a free, 90-day fraud alert by contacting one of the three credit bureaus. The company you contact must tell the other two.
- Experian.com/fraudalert | 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion.com/fraud | 1-800-680-7289
- Equifax.com/creditreportassistance | 1-888-766-0008
Why a fraud alert? A fraud alert is free. It will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name. You can renew the fraud alert after 90 days.
Step 3: Get a free credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Review your reports. Make note of any account or transaction you don’t recognize. This will help you report the theft to the FTC and the police.
Step 4: Report identity theft to the FTC.
- Complete the online form at IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338. Include as many details as possible.
- Based on the information you enter, IdentityTheft.gov will create your Identity Theft Report and recovery plan.
- Your identity theft report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity. It also guarantees you certain rights.
Step 5: File a report with your local police department.
- Go to your local police office with:
- A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report (see Step 4 above).
- A government-issued ID with a photo.
- Proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill)
- Any other proof you have of the theft (bills, IRS notices, etc.)
- FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement
- Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report.
- Ask for a copy of the police report. You may need this to complete other steps.
What to do next
Step 1: Close any new unauthorized accounts opened in your name.
- Now that you have an Identity Theft Report (see above), call the fraud department of each business where an account was opened. Do the following:
- Explain that someone stole your identity;
- Ask the business to close the account; and
- Ask the business to send you a letter confirming that the fraudulent account isn’t yours, you are not liable for it, and it was removed from your credit report. Make sure to keep this letter. Use it if the account appears on your credit report later on.
- Write down who you contacted and when.
Step 2: Remove bogus charges from your accounts.
- Call the fraud department of each business.
- Explain that someone stole your identity.
- Tell them which charges are fraudulent. Ask the business to remove them.
- Ask the business to send you a letter confirming they removed the fraudulent charges.
- Keep this letter. Use it if this account appears on your credit report later on.
- Write down who you contacted and when.
Step 3: Correct your credit report.
If someone steals your identity, you have the right to remove fraudulent information from your credit report. This is called blocking. Once the information is blocked, it won’t show up on your credit report, and companies can’t try to collect the debt from you. If you have an Identity Theft Report, credit bureaus must honor your request to block this information.
Write to each of the three credit bureaus. This sample letter can help.
- Include a copy of your Identity Theft Report and proof of your identity, such as your name, address, and Social Security number.
- Explain which information on your report came from Identity theft.
- Ask them to block that information.
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Step 4: Consider adding an extended fraud alert or credit freeze.
Extended fraud alerts and credit freezes can help prevent further misuse of your personal information. There are important differences. The below information can help you decide which may be right for you.
- Lets you have access to your credit report as long as companies take steps to verify your identity.
- Free to place and remove if someone stole your identity. Guaranteed by federal law.
- Lasts for 7 years.
- Set it by contacting each of the three credit bureaus:
- Report that someone stole your identity. Request an extended fraud alert.
- Complete any necessary forms and send a copy of your Identity Theft Report.
- For fraud alerts:
- Stops all access to your credit report unless you lift or remove it.
- Cost and availability depend on your state law. There might be a small fee for placing, lifting and removing.
- Lasts until you lift or remove.
- Set it by contacting each of the three credit bureaus.
- Report that someone stole your identity.
- Ask the company to put a freeze on your credit file.
- Pay the fee required by state law
- For credit freezes: