This guide is intended to provide victims of identity theft with the major resources to contact. Unfortunately, at this time victims themselves are burdened with resolving the problem. You must act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.
In dealing with the authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, including dates, names, and phone numbers. note time spent and expenses incurred in case you are able to seed restitution in a later judgment or conviction against the thief, or if you itemize tax deductions for theft-related expenses (consult your accountant). Confirm conversations in writing. Send correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep copies of all letters and documents.
Immediately report the situation to the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies - Experian (formerly TRW) 1-888-397-3742, Equifax 1-800-685-6285, and TransUnion 1-800-680-7289. As of April 2003, if you notify one bureau that you are a victim of identity theft, it will notify the other two. report that your identifying information is being used by another person to obtain credit fraudulently in your name. Ask that your file be flagged with a fraud alert.
Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently, by phone and in writing. You will see evidence of these accounts on your email credit reports. Creditors will likely ask you to fill out fraud affidavits. No law requires affidavits to be notarized at your won expense. You may choose to substitute witness signatures for notarization if creditors require verification of your signature.
If your existing credit accounts have been used fraudulently, get replacement cards with new account numbers. Ask that old accounts be processed as "Account closed at consumer's request" (better than "card lost or stolen" because it can be interpreted as blaming you). Monitor your mail and bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately to creditor grantors. Add passwords to all accounts. This should not be your mother's maiden name or a word that is easily guessed.
Report the crime to your local police or sheriff's department. You might also need to report it to police departments where the crime occurred. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Make sure the police report lists the fraud accounts. get a copy of the report. Keep the phone number of your investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case. Credit card companies and banks may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime. Also report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission.
(Alexandria) (318) 473-6700
(Pineville) (318) 640-1696
(Glenmora) (318) 748-4226
If debt collectors attempt to require you to pay the unpaid bills on fraudulent credit accounts, ask for the name of the company, the name of the person contacting you, phone number, and address. Tell the collector that you are a victim of fraud and are not responsible for the account. Ask the collector for the name and contact information for the referring credit issuer, the amount of the debt, account number, and the dates of the charges. Ask if they need you to complete their fraud affidavit form or if you can use the Federal Trade Commission form. Follow up in writing to the debt collector explaining your situation. Ask that they confirm in writing that you do not owe the debt and that the account has been closed.
If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the appropriate check verification companies. Your bank branch should be able to provide you with a fraud affidavit. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account (not your mother's maiden name). If your own checks are rejected at stores where you shop, contact the check verification company that the merchant uses.
If your ATM or debit card has been stolen or compromised, report it immediately. Contact your bank branch who requires a fraud affidavit. Get a new card, account number and password, do not use common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN), or your birth date. Monitor your account statement. you may be liable if fraud is not reported quickly. Be sure to read the debit card contract for liability. Some cards are better protected in cases of fraud than others.
Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit fraud. (Call the U.S. Post Office to obtain the phone number, 1-800-275-8777.) Find out where the 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 the mail carrier.
Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to report fraudulent use of your SSN such as welfare or Social Security benefit fraud. They do not handle cases of financial or criminal identity theft. As a last resort, you might try to change your number, although we do not recommend it except for very serious cases. The SSA will only change the number if you fit their fraud victim criteria.
Whether you have a passport or not, write the passport office to alert them to anyone ordering a passport fraudulently.
Provide a password which must be used any time your local, cell, and long distance accounts are changed. If you calling card has been stolen or there are fraudulent charges, cancel it and open a new account.
You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is using yours as ID on bad checks or for other types of fraud. call the state office of the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to see if another license was issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license if your state's DMV provides a fraud alert process. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Fill out the DMV's complaint forma to begin the investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office.
If the imposter is apprehended by law enforcement and stands trial, write a victim impact letter tot he judge handling the case. Contact the victim-witness assistance program in your area for further information on how to make your voice heard in the legal proceedings.
Sometimes victims of identity theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by the imposter. If a civil judgment is entered in your name for your imposter's actions, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully arrested or prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the police department and the court in the jurisdiction of the arrest. Also contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI. Ask how to clear your name.