Identity Theft Victims

If you become the victim of Identity Theft, it is important to act immediately to stop the thief’s further use of your identity. Unfortunately, at this time victims themselves are burdened with resolving the problem. It is important to act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.

In dealing with authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, dates, names, and telephone numbers. Note the time spent and any expenses incurred. Confirm conversations in writing. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime.

Send correspondence by certified mail (return receipt requested). Keep copies of all letters and documents. Sometimes victims of Identity Theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by an imposter. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by an imposter, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of Identity Theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted of criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Ask how to clear your name.

Suggested Steps

The Fife Police Department suggests you also do the following:

  1. Report the crime to all police and sheriff departments with jurisdiction in your case immediately. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Obtain a copy of all police reports. Keep the telephone number of your fraud detective/investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case. Credit card companies, banks, and insurance companies may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime. Some police and sheriff departments have been known to refuse to write reports on such crimes. Be persistent!
  2. Immediately contact (by telephone and in writing) all creditors with whom your name has been used fraudulently. Obtain replacement cards with new account numbers for your own accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be processed as account closed at consumer’s request. (This is better than card lost or stolen because when this statement is reported to credit reporting bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately to credit grantors.
  3. If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, notify your bank. Report the fraud to check verification companies. Place stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your checking and saving accounts and obtain new account numbers. Ask the bank to issue you a secret password that must be used in every transaction (not your mother’s maiden name).

    Write a form letter that can be mailed or faxed whenever you receive an inquiry about fraudulent checks written from your bank account. The letter should give a brief description of what happened, check numbers and check manufacturer (obtained from your bank), bank account number, case number (assigned by police or the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction), the name of the police or sheriff detective/investigator handling your case, and the name and telephone number of the customer service representative at your bank.
  4. You may be asked by banks and credit grantors to fill out and notarize fraud affidavits, which are costly. The law does not require that a notarized affidavit be provided to creditors. A written statement and supporting documentation should be enough (unless the creditor offers to pay the notary). Overly burdensome requirements by creditors should be reported to federal government authorities.
  5. The Secret Service has jurisdiction over financial fraud cases but it usually does not investigate individual cases unless the dollar amount is high and/or you are one of many victims of a fraud ring. To interest the Secret Service in your case, you may want to ask the fraud department of the credit card companies and/or banks, as well as the police or sheriff detective/investigator to notify the particular Secret Service agent they work with regarding your case.
  6. Call the Social Security Administration (SSA) to report fraudulent use of your Social Security number. Also, order a copy of your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement and check it for accuracy. As a last resort, you might want to change your number. The SSA will only change it if you fit their fraud victim criteria. Caution: This step should be reserved for only the most extreme situations. You must be sure to notify all credit grantors and credit reporting bureaus of your new Social Security number.
  7. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud against you. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect mail theft. Theft of mail is a felony. (Call the local Postmaster to obtain the telephone number). Find out where fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk with your mail carrier.
  8. If you have a passport, notify the passport office to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently.
  9. Call electrical, gas and water utilities. Alert them to the possibility that someone may attempt to open new service using your identification.
  10. You may want to change your driver license number if someone is using your license as identification to pass bad checks. Call the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if another license has been issued in your name. Place a fraud alert in your DMV records. Go to your local DMV office to request a new driver license number. Also, fill out a DMV complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office. Be persistent!
  11. You may want to consult an attorney to determine legal action to take against creditors and/or credit bureaus if they are not cooperative in removing fraudulent entries from your credit report or if negligence is a factor. Call the local Bar Association to find an attorney who specializes in consumer law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  12. Pay attention to your own mental health. Victims of identity theft often report they are somehow to blame. They often feel violated, even powerless, due to the fact that few, if any, of the authorities they have notified of the crime step forward to help them. Psychological counseling may help you deal with the stress and anxiety commonly experienced by victims. Discuss your situation with a trusted friend, spiritual advisor or counselor.
  13. Do not give in and do not pay any bill or portion of a bill, which is the result of Identity Theft. Do not cover any checks, which were written and/or cashed fraudulently. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but do not allow yourself to be coerced into paying fraudulent bills. Write to your state and federal legislators. Demand stronger privacy protection and fraud assistance by creditors and credit reporting bureaus.
  14. Finally, speak with the detective investigating your case, he or she may be able to assist you in obtaining a fingerprint comparison if the suspect has ever been arrested or has used your name during an arrest. You may be able to obtain information regarding any warrants connected to the arrest, this may also help in reestablishing your credit or obtaining a new social security number.

Credit Reporting Bureaus

Contact credit reporting bureaus for names and telephone numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask the credit reporting bureaus to remove inquiries that have been generated due to the fraudulent access. You may also ask the credit reporting bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the last six months in order to alert them to the disputed and erroneous information (two years for employers).

Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus, i.e, Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW) and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim’s statement to your report, up to 100 words. (My Identification has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at (telephone number) to verify all applications.)

Be sure to ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your account, and how you can extend it if necessary. Be aware that these measures may not entirely stop new fraudulent accounts from being opened by an imposter. Ask the credit bureaus in writing to provide you with free copies every few months so you can monitor your credit report.

Equifax

  • To report fraud call 800-525-6285 or 800-685-1111
  • To order a copy of your credit report write:
    P.O. Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
  • To dispute information in credit report write:
    P.O. Box 740256
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
  • To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or write:
    Equifax Options
    P.O. Box 740123
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

Experian (formerly TRW)

  • To report fraud, call 888-397-3742 or fax 800-301-7196
  • To contact Experian Consumer Fraud Assistance write:
    P. O. Box 1017
    Allen, TX 75013
  • To order a copy of your credit report, call 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) or write:
    P.O. Box 2104
    Allen, TX 75013-2104
  • To dispute information in credit report contact Experian at the address and telephone number provided on your credit report.
  • To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists call 800-353-0809

Trans Union

  • To report fraud, call 800-680-7289 or write:
    Fraud Victim Assistance Division
    P.O. Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92634
  • To order a copy of your credit report, call 800-916-8800 or write:
    P.O. Box 390
    Springfield, PA 19064
  • To dispute information in your credit report call 800-888-4213 or call the telephone number provided on your credit report or use investigation request form provided by Trans Union when you order your report.
  • To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) Remember, if you have been denied

Summary

When Identity Theft occurs, you need to act quickly, know what to do, who to contact and fully understand your rights under the law. Identity Theft exerts great emotional distress on its victims. Damage containment in each fraud case depends on how deeply the imposter has invaded your personal, professional and financial life.

There are many preparatory actions one can take to prevent Identity Theft. The information in this circular is meant to educate consumers. You can never be too careful, prepared, or aware. Share this information with family and friends. Schedule family discussions, ensure everyone is aware and prepared in the event an identity thief strikes.