id theft

The Crime of Identity Theft

According to the FTC identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America and it can happen to almost anyone unless you’ve taken steps to protect yourself. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, open credit cards and max them out, obtain loans or establish a telephone account, even commit serious crimes – all using your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is a crime that takes your good name and uses it to open accounts, make purchases and get loans from all over the world at your expense.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend thousands of dollars and many months, sometimes years, repairing the damage to their good name and credit record.

Identity Theft may cause a denial of loan applications, even car or home financing because of negative information reported on the victim’s credit report.


1. Activate a fraud alert.

identity theft

Call the following toll free numbers of the three credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) and request for an initial fraud alert to be placed on your credit report. Once the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, they will forward that information to the other credit bureaus.

By initiating this process, lenders are required to contact you by phone to authorize any new lines of credit.

All three credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) will provide you a credit report free of charge per government mandate.

Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

As soon as you receive your credit report, go over all of the information and highlight any accounts affected by the identity theft.

Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debt on your accounts that you don’t recognize. Check personal information reported on the credit report: Social Security number, addresses, names, and employers. If you find any inaccurate information the credit bureaus have to be notified right away.

2. File a police report.

file a police report

Contact your local police department and file a police report. The police may be able to catch and prosecute whoever stole your information. An official record will also reinforce your claims of fraudulent charges if creditors or credit bureaus ask for further information. Keep a copy of the police report. You may need it to validate your claims to creditors or credit bureaus.

3. Contact your creditors.

Call your creditors and notify them that your identity has been compromised. Open investigations into any unauthorized charges, new accounts, etc… requesting that any fraudulent charges be removed and any fraudulent accounts be closed. Communicating with the creditors is of the utmost importance when dealing with identity theft. Be honest and forthcoming with all available information.

Keep a file of your correspondences and enclosures.

4. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

federal trade commission

You can file an identity theft complaint with the FTC on-line here or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20580.

Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

5. Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Submit an Identity Theft Complaint to the CFPB, listing all of the accounts compromised in your credit. Make sure to list any addresses, phone numbers, inquiries, and accounts that you do not recognize as yours in your complaint.

You will be able to attach additional corroborating documents to your complaint so make sure that you scan and attach your police report and Identity Theft Affidavit from the FTC.

6. Contact the Credit Reporting Agencies.

credit reporting agencies

Initiate a dispute into any fraudulent accounts listed in your credit reports with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion including personal information like addresses, phone numbers, employers, as well as any inquiries and accounts which you did not open.

Feel free to use this sample letter to dispute identity theft with the credit bureaus.

Explain that the accounts that you are disputing are a result of Identity Theft.

Include a copy of your police report, identity theft affidavit from the FTC, CFPB complaint number and identity verification documents (copy of your ID, social security card, and a utility bill) to verify your identity.

Send your dispute letter along with all of your supporting documentation to

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

7. Additional

identity theft protection

Lost or Stolen Social Security Card?

You can apply for a free replacement card online or at your local social office.


Lost or Stolen Drivers License or ID?

You can go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to get a replacement.
Locate your local DMV office


Lost or Stolen Passport?

Call the State Department at 1-877-487-2778 or TTY 1-888-874-7793.

If you want to replace the passport you can make an appointment to apply in person at a Passport Agency or Center. You may also submit Form DS-11 and Form DS-64 in person at an authorized Passport Application Acceptance Facility.


Getting Calls or Mail from Debt Collectors for a Fraudulent Debt?

Here is a sample letter you can send debt collectors to let them know about your identity theft.


Identity Theft Impacting your Taxes?

Was your tax refund stolen through Identity Theft?
Did you get a W-2 or 1099 from an employer you don’t know?
Send a letter to the employer explaining that someone stole your identity and that you don’t work for them. Then file IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039).
You may also call the IRS for assistance at 1-800-908-4490.

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