Signs of Identity Theft
Many People don’t know they’ve become victims of identity theft until they’re contacted by a financial institution. Don’t rely on others to notify you that your information has been stolen. Know what to look for. Early detection can help limit the damage done by an identity thief. Here are indicators that you may be a victim.
• You notice errors or unfamiliar transactions on your bank and/or credit card accounts.
• Your credit report includes unfamiliar accounts or charges.
• Your credit report contains inquiries made by businesses in response to applications for credit, loans, or services you didn’t initiate.
• You receive collection notices or calls about a debt that isn’t yours.
• You have a good credit rating but are denied credit in response to an application.
• Your checks are refused by merchants.
• Bills, statements, or other expected mail or email doesn’t arrive.
• You get bills for accounts you didn’t open or medical services you didn’t receive.
• Your health insurance responds to your legitimate medical claim with a notice that your benefits limit was reached.
• Your medical records report a condition you don’t have.
• You are notified by the IRS that you have income from an employer unknown to you or that more than one tax return was filled with your Social Security number.
• You are notified of a DATA BREACH at a company that involved your information.
Victims: What to Do Right Away
If you become a victim of identity theft, act quickly. This can help limit the damage.
1. Call any business where you know fraud took place. Ask to speak to the fraud department. Say your identity was stolen. Ask for your account(s) to be closed or frozen so an identity thief can’t add new charges.
2. Place an ignition fraud alert on your files. Contact one of the three major U.S. credit reporting companies to report yourself as a victim of identity theft and to place the initial fraud alert. That one must tell the other two. Ask the credit reporting company you contact for confirmation that this well be done.
Credit Reporting Companies:
Equifax 800-766-0008 Equifax.com
Experian 888-397-3742 Experian.com
Transunion 800-680-7289 TransUnion.com
A fraud alert on your credit report lets lenders and creditors know that they should take steps to verify your identity before they issue you credit. This may help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. An initial fraud alert is good for 90 days and may be renewed. You may later choose to place an extended fraud alert. You might also choose at this time to place a credit freeze.
3. Order a credit report. By law, you are entitles to a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three companies. You must contact each individually to order a report. (You may wish to order one now and the other two at later times to track new activity or corrections.) Immediately review your credit report and note any unfamiliar transactions or accounts. Give this information to authorities such as the FTC and the police.
4. File a complaint about the theft with the FTC. You can do so online or over the phone.
5. File a police report. Go to your local police station (or the police station where the theft occurred). Say you are a victim of identity theft and wish to file a police report. Bring along:
• A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
• Any other proof of identity theft
• Proof of your address
• A government-issued photo I.D.
The FTC has provided consumers access to its “Memo To Law Enforcement” that explains the meaning, purpose, and importance of an Identity Theft Report to the police. Bringing this memo may help if you find the police are reluctant to have you file a report.* Read this memo carefully to understand how the affidavit (referred to as the “ID Theft Complaint”) and police report work together to create an Identity Theft Report. The memo also asks police to provide you with a copy of your Identity Theft Report, which combines the affidavit with the police report.
You must have a completed Identity Theft Report to prove to businesses that you are an identity theft victim and to exercise all of your rights.
*If a police department will not file a report, contact your state Attorney General’s office for help.