If you have been targeted by identity theft, start here:
Sharing information online can be risky. To best protect yourself, it is wise to never share the following information online:
- Phone Numbers
- Social Security Number or Census Number
- Family Names
- Driver’s License Number
- Loan or credit card information.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime. Criminals target victims by stealing their information, like their social security number. The criminals use this information to open accounts and pretend to be the identity theft victim!
Signs you may be a victim of identity theft:
- Receiving mail or phone calls about loans or credit cards you did not apply for.
- Emails confirming you registered for a service that you never signed-up for.
- Notifications that you have opened new accounts when you haven’t.
Identity theft can affect your credit, personal life, bank accounts, and more.
Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft.
- Never share your birth date, social security number, or address with anyone.
- Do not put your personal information into any websites (unless you know you can trust it).
If you aren’t sure you are using an official website, call the business or organization and ask an employee.
- Pay close attention to your accounts and make sure all the charges are yours.
What to do if you have been targeted:
Step #1: Contact the businesses.
Call the business or company where the identity theft fraud took place. This might be a credit card company, bank, or a store.
Step #2: Put a freeze on your credit so scammers can’t open new accounts in your name.
Go to IdentityTheft.gov and follow the steps to put a fraud alert on your credit report.
You can also call one of the credit bureaus to report the fraud:
Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
The credit bureau you file the report with will inform the others.
Step #3: File a report.
File an official report of the identity theft with the Federal Trade Commission by following the steps at IdentityTheft.gov.
Dealing with an Identity Theft attack
After you have filed a report of the identity theft and frozen your credit, you will need to deal with any credit cards, loans, or credit that was taken out in your name.
Here is what you need to do:
- Gather information on ALL the accounts that were opened in your name. Be sure to look at your credit report closely! Look for loans, installment contracts, car loans, credit cards, and lines of credit.
- Contact the fraud department of every business where a fake account was opened.
The business may require you to provide proof you filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Do this first!
- Explain that you have been the victim of identity theft, and that you need to close the fraudulent accounts.
- Ask the business to send you a letter confirming:
- The account opened with them was not yours.
- You are not liable for the account.
- It has been removed from your credit report.
If criminals targeted your bank accounts or credit cards, call the companies to have the charges removed.
- Explain that someone stole your identity.
- Have the bill ready to tell them which charges were bogus.
- Ask that they send you confirmation that these charges have been removed.
If someone has opened bogus utility accounts, student loans, or filed for public assistance in your name:
- Contact the provider. This may be an electric or gas company, student loan provider, cell phone company, or government benefit office.
- Ask them to close the account.