Identity Theft Advice Portal
Introduction
Protecting Against Identity Theft
Detecting Identity Theft
Recovering From Identity Theft
Identity Theft Laws
Useful Links
Press & News
Buy Identity Monitoring Service

Top 10 Best Practices


IDWatch selected as a Finalist for Consumer Product of the Year for the 11th Annual WSA Industry Achievement Awards

Recovering From Identity Theft

ID Theft is a serious crime.  People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years - and hard-earned money - cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record.  In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities or be refused loans, education, housing or cars, even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.  Recovering is a process better begun early rather than late. 


 What are the first steps I should take?


Consider your ID Theft incident as your "case."  Your primary goals are to:

  • close fraudulent accounts; 
  • clear yourself of responsibility for any debts or other criminal activities the thief has perpetrated in your name;
  • ensure that your credit report is correct, and;
  • find out as much information about the suspect as you can so you can share that information with the police and the FTC.

Back

 What can ID Watch do for me?


ID Watch will help you by making sure the proper paperwork is filled out and that the correct authorities and institutions are contacted. Copies of your credit reports will be sent to you, alerts will be sent, public records and financial dossiers will be made available for you to go over for any suspect information.  A Recovery Advocate will be assigned to your case to help you understand the information you have and what to do with it.

Follow up all calls to the authorities and financial institutions in writing. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep copies for your files.

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.

Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact any of the three major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too.

Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your SSN will appear on your credit reports.

Back

 What to look for in a credit report?



Once you receive your reports, review them carefully to make sure no fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Check your credit reports carefully to make sure the information is accurate.  Look for inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you didn't open and unexplained debts on your legitimate accounts. Check that information like your SSN; address(es); name and any variations, including initials, Jr., Sr., etc.; and employers is correct.  Inaccuracies in this information may also be due to typographical errors.  Nevertheless, whether the inaccuracies are due to fraud or error, notify the credit bureau as soon as possible by telephone and in writing.

Inquiries on credit reports from potential credit card issuers do not always mean that some one has tried to get credit in your name.  Banks and credit card companies often inquire about a consumer's creditworthiness to help them target their marketing efforts. These inquiries will be identified in a designated section of the report.  You should continue to check your reports periodically, especially in the first year of discovery, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

Back

 How do I correct inaccurate information on my credit reports?


The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on your credit record and requires that your record be made available only for certain legitimate business needs.

Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (the business that sent the information to the consumer reporting company), such as a bank or credit card company, are responsible for correcting fraudulent information in your report.  To protect your rights under the law, contact both the consumer reporting company and the information provider.

Consumer Reporting Company Obligations

Consumer reporting companies will block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report if you take the following steps: send them a copy of an ID theft report and a letter telling them what information is fraudulent.  The letter also should state that the information does not relate to any transaction that you made or authorized.  Send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt so you can document what the credit bureau received and when.  Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.  In addition, provide proof of your identity that may include your SSN, name, address, and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company.   

The consumer reporting company has four business days to block the fraudulent information after accepting your ID Theft report.  It also must tell the information provider that it has blocked the information.  The consumer reporting company may refuse to block the information or remove the block if, for example, you have not told the truth about your identity theft.  If the consumer reporting company removes the block or refuses to place the block, it must let you know.  

The blocking process is only one way for ID Theft victims to deal with fraudulent information.  There's also the reinvestigation process, which was designed to help all consumers dispute errors or inaccuracies on their credit reports.

For more information, consult How to Dispute Credit Report Errors and Fair Credit Reporting.çthis should link to http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm

Information Provider Obligations

Information providers stop reporting fraudulent information to the consumer reporting companies once you send them an identity theft report and a letter explaining that the information that they're reporting resulted from ID Theft.  You must send your ID Theft report and letter to the address specified by the information provider.  Note that the information provider may continue to report the information if it later learns that the information does not result from identity theft.

If a consumer reporting company tells an information provider that it has blocked fraudulent information in your credit report, the information provider may not continue to report that information to the consumer reporting company.  The information provider also may not hire someone to collect the debt that relates to the fraudulent account, or sell that debt to anyone else who would try to collect it.

  1. Contact the creditors (for example, credit card companies, phone companies and other utilities, and banks and other lenders) to close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.  Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, then follow up in writing.It's particularly important to notify credit card companies in writing.  You may ask creditors for a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your identity theft, if you think that this information will be helpful to prove that are you are a victim.  Creditors must provide this information free of charge.
  2. File a report with your local police.  Get a copy of the police report in case the creditors, credit bureaus or others need proof of the crime.

  3. File a complaint with the FTC.  The FTC maintains a database of ID Theft cases that is used by law enforcement agencies for investigations.  Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about ID Theft and the problems victims are having so that we may better assist you.

Back

 How do I prove I'm a victim?


Creditor documentation can help you prove that you are a victim.  For example, you may be able to show that the signature on an application is not yours.  By law (the Fair Credit Reporting Act section 609(e), creditors must give you a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your ID Theft free of charge.  Creditors must provide these records within 30 days of receipt of your request.You also may give permission to any law enforcement agency to get these records.  

In order to obtain these records, you must mail your request to the address chosen by the creditor.Contact the creditor's fraud department by telephone to find out if the creditor has chosen a specific address.  The creditor is entitled to ask you for: 

  1. Proof of your identity which may be a government issued ID card, the same type of information the identity thief used to open or access the account, or the type of information the creditor is currently requesting from applicants or customers 

                and 

  2. a police report and a completed affidavit which may be either the ID Theft Affidavit or the creditor's own affidavit. 

A business does not have to provide the records in all cases.  For instance, a business will not provide the records if it reviews your proof of identity and still does not have a high degree of confidence that it knows your true identity, or if you have not told the truth in making your request. A business also does not have to provide the records if it is prohibited from doing so under other provisions of state or federal law.  Please note that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (Subtitle A of title V of Public Law 106-102) does not prohibit the release of records to a victim of ID Theft.

Once you have resolved your ID Theft dispute with the creditor, ask for a letter from the creditor stating that they have closed the disputed accounts and have discharged you of the fraudulent debts.  This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear on your credit report or you mistakenly are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.

Back

What is an ID Theft report?

An identity theft report may have two parts:

Part One is a copy of a report filed with a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency, like your local police department, your State Attorney General, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the FTC, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  There is no federal law requiring a federal agency to take a report about ID Theft; however, some state laws require local police departments to take reports.  When you file a report, provide as much information as you can about the crime, including anything you know about the dates of the ID Theft, the fraudulent accounts opened and the alleged identity thief.   

Note:  Knowingly submitting false information could subject you to criminal prosecution for perjury. 

Part Two of an ID Theft report depends on the policies of the consumer reporting company and the information provider (the business that sent the information to the consumer reporting company).  That is, they may ask you to provide information or documentation in addition to that included in the law enforcement report, which is reasonably intended to verify your ID Theft.  They must make their request within 15 days of receiving your law enforcement report, or, if you already obtained an extended fraud alert on your credit report, the date you submit your request to the credit reporting company for information blocking.  The consumer reporting company and information provider then have 15 more days to work with you to make sure your ID Theft report contains everything they need.  They are entitled to take five days to review any information you give them.  For example, if you give them information 11 days after they request it, they do not have to make a final decision until 16 days after they asked you for that information.  If you give them any information after the 15-day deadline, they can reject your ID Theft report as incomplete; you will have to resubmit your ID Theft report with the correct information.  

You may find that most federal and state agencies, and some local police departments, offer only automated reports: a report that does not require a face-to-face meeting with a law enforcement officer.  Automated reports may be submitted online, or by telephone or mail.  If you have a choice, do not use an automated report.  The reason?  It's more difficult for the consumer reporting company or information provider to verify the information.  Unless you are asking a consumer reporting company to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, you probably will have to provide additional information or documentation when you use an automated report.

Back

What should I do if the local police will not take a report?

There are efforts at the federal, state and local level to ensure that local law enforcement agencies understand identity theft, its impact on victims, and the importance of taking a police report.  However, we still hear that some departments are not taking reports.The following tips may help you to get a report if you're having difficulties:

  • Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your case.Debt collection letters, credit reports, your notarized ID Theft Affidavit, and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help demonstrate the seriousness of your case.

  • Be persistent if local authorities tell you that they can't take a report.Stress the importance of a police report; many creditors require one to resolve your dispute.  Remind them that credit bureaus will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report, but only if you can give them a copy of the police report.
  • If you're told that ID Theft is not a crime under your state law, ask to file a Miscellaneous Incident Report instead.
  • If you can't get the local police to take a report, try your county police.  If that doesn't work, try your state police.
  • Some states require the police to take reports for ID Theft.  Check with the office of your State Attorney General to find out if your state has this law.

Back

Filing a complaint with the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is the federal clearinghouse for ID Theft complaints.  While they are not involved in prosecuting or investigating cases, filing a complaint with the FTC is an important step in clearing up your ID Theft concerns.The FTC takes information from your complaint and shares that information with the proper law enforcement authorities and credit bureaus.This not only helps you, it helps law enforcement to prevent future fraud cases.

The FTC uses the information from these complaints to educate consumers on how to protect their information, businesses on the best way to protect your interests and their own, and police and other agencies on ID theft prosecution and law enforcement.

The information is put into a secure national database that law enforcement uses for their investigations.  Sometimes, identity thieves steal several identities at once, something your local police may know nothing about.  Patterns or other evidence may then come to light, which federal and local law enforcement can use to solve your case.

Although an investigation does not necessarily follow filing a complaint with the FTC, it does lend authority to your case at the local level.  If the local police do not have the work force to give your case individual attention, they may find that there are several cases in the community that share similar traits.  They may then open a case based on the number of complaints in the community.

For more information, or to file a complaint, see www.ftc.gov.

Back

 Social Security


Back

When should I contact the SS administration?

The Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General investigates cases that involve the use of your SSN to fraudulently obtain Social Security benefits.  They also investigate cases that involve the use of counterfeit SSN cards, the manufacturing or selling of counterfeit SSN cards, the selling of legitimate SSN cards or information, or the misuse of SSNs linked to terrorist groups or activities.Report any of these allegations to the SSA Fraud Hotline.  Call: 1-800- 269-0271; fax: 410-597-0118; write: SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235; or e-mail: oig.hotline@ssa.gov.

You also can call SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, and to request a copy of your Social Security Statement or to get a replacement SSN card if yours is lost or stolen.  Follow up in writing.

For more information: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/idtheft.htm

SSA publications:

Back

Should I apply for a new SSN?

Under certain circumstances, the Social Security Administration may issue you a new SSN - at your request - if, after trying to resolve the problems brought on by ID Theft, you continue to experience problems. Consider this option carefully.  A new SSN may not resolve your ID Theft problems, and may actually create new problems.  For example, a new SSN does not necessarily ensure a new credit record because credit bureaus may combine the credit records from your old SSN with those from your new SSN. Even when the old credit information is not associated with your new SSN, the absence of any credit history under your new SSN may make it more difficult for you to get credit.Finally, there's no guarantee that a new SSN wouldn't also be misused by an identity thief.

Back

 Existing accounts


What should I do if someone has tampered with my existing accounts?

  1. Contact the fraud department of the company where your account has been tampered with.
  2. Close the account and open a new one. Get a new personal identification number (PIN) or password when you open the new account.  Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
  3. Dispute in writing any charges run up by the identity thief on those accounts.Insist on having debits reinstated. Ask the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms.  If the company doesn't have special forms, you can use this sample letter (link to http://www.oskie.com/credit-dispute.htm ).
  4. You may ask creditors for a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your identity theft, if you think that this information will be helpful to prove that are you are a victim.  Creditors must provide this information free of charge.

What should I do about unauthorized charges on my CC's?

The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) establishes procedures for resolving billing errors on your credit card accounts, including fraudulent charges on your accounts and limits your liability for unauthorized credit card charges to $50 per card.

To take advantage of the law's consumer protections, you must:

  • Write to the creditor at the address given for "billing inquiries," not the address for sending your payments.  Include your name, address, account number and a description of the billing error, including the amount and date of the error.
  • Send your letter so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you.If the address on your account was changed by an identity thief and you never received the bill, your dispute letter still must reach the creditor within 60 days of when the creditor would have mailed the bill.This is why it's so important to keep track of your billing statements and immediately follow up when your bills don't arrive on time.
  • Send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt.  This will be your proof of the date the creditor received the letter.  Include copies (NOT originals) of sales slips or other documents that support your position.  Keep a copy of your dispute letter.

The creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days after receiving it, unless the problem has been resolved.  The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter.

For more information, see Fair Credit Billing and Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud.

Back

What should I do if someone is misusing my checking account?

In general, if an identity thief steals your checks or counterfeits checks from your existing bank account, stop payment, close the account, and ask your bank to notify Chex Systems, Inc. or the check verification service with which it does business.  That way, retailers can be notified not to accept these checks.  While no federal law limits your losses if someone uses your checks with a forged signature, or uses another type of paper transaction such as a demand draft, state laws may protect you.  Most states hold the bank responsible for losses from such transactions.  At the same time, most states require you to take reasonable care of your account.  For example, you may be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to notify the bank in a timely manner that a check was lost or stolen.  Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information. 

You can contact major check verification companies directly for the following services: 

To request that they notify retailers who use their databases not to accept your checks, call:

  • TeleCheck at 1‑800‑710‑9898 or 1-800-927‑0188

  • Certegy, Inc. (previously Equifax Check Systems) at 1‑800‑437‑5120

To find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your name, call:

  • SCAN: 1‑800‑262‑7771  

If your checks are rejected by a merchant, it may be because an identity thief is using the Magnetic Information Character Recognition (MICR) code (the numbers at the bottom of checks), your driver's license number, or another identification number.  The merchant who rejects your check should give you its check verification company contact information so you can find out what information the thief is using.  If you find that the thief is using your MICR code, ask your bank to close your checking account, and open a new one.  If you discover that the thief is using your driver's license number or some other identification number, work with your DMV or other identification issuing agency to get new identification with new numbers.  Once you have taken the appropriate steps, your checks should be accepted.  

Note:

  • The check verification company may or may not remove the information about the MICR code or the driver's license/identification number from its database because this information may help prevent the thief from continuing to commit fraud.
  • If the checks are being passed on a new account, contact the bank to close the account.  Also, contact Chex Systems, Inc., to review your consumer report to make sure that no other bank accounts have been opened in your name.
  • Dispute any bad checks passed in your name with merchants so they don't start any collections actions against you.

You may ask banks or merchants for the business transaction records relating to your ID Theft, if you think that this information will be helpful to prove that are you are a victim. They must provide this information free of charge.

Back

How do I get back money stolen using my debit card or other electronic means?


The Electronic Fund Transfer Act provides consumer protections for transactions involving an ATM or debit card or other electronic way to debit or credit an account. It also limits your liability for unauthorized electronic fund transfers.

You have 60 days from the date your bank account statement is sent to you to report in writing any money withdrawn from your account without your permission.  This includes instances when your ATM or debit card is skimmed, that is, when a thief captures your account number and PIN without your card having been lost or stolen. 

If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately because the amount you can be held responsible for depends on how quickly you report the loss.

It's important to report lost or stolen ATM and debit cards immediately because the amount you can be held responsible for depends on how quickly you report the loss.

  • If you report your ATM card lost or stolen within two business days of discovering the loss or theft, your losses are limited to $50. 
     
  • If you report your ATM card lost or stolen after two business days, but within 60 days after a statement showing an unauthorized electronic fund transfer, you can be liable for up to $500 of what a thief withdraws. 
     
  • If you wait more than 60 days, you could lose all the money that was taken from your account after the end of the 60 days and before you report your card missing.

Note: VISA and MasterCard have voluntarily agreed to limit consumers' liability for unauthorized use of their debit cards in most instances to $50 per card, no matter how much time has elapsed since the discovery of the loss or theft of the card. 

The best way to protect yourself in the event of an error or fraudulent transaction is to call the financial institution and follow up in writing - by certified letter, return receipt requested - so you can prove when the institution received your letter.Keep a copy of the letter you send for your records.

After receiving notification about an error on your statement, the institution generally has 10 business days to investigate.  The financial institution must tell you the results of its investigation within three business days after completing it and must correct an error within one business day after determining that the error has occurred.If the institution needs more time, it may take up to 45 days to complete the investigation - but only if the money in dispute is returned to your account and you are notified promptly of the credit.At the end of the investigation, if no error has been found, the institution may take the money back if it sends you a written explanation.

You may ask the banks for the business transaction records relating to your ID Theft, if you think that this information will be helpful to prove that are you are a victim.They must provide this information free of charge.

For more information, see Electronic Banking and Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What to do if They're Lost or Stolen

Back

 New accounts


What do I do if someone has opened new bank accounts?

If you have trouble opening a new checking account, it may be because an identity thief has been opening accounts in your name.  Chex Systems, Inc. produces consumer reports specifically about checking accounts, and as a consumer reporting company, is subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  You can request a free copy of your consumer report by contacting Chex Systems, Inc.  Contact each of the banks where account inquiries were made, too.  This will help ensure that any fraudulently opened accounts are closed.  

Chex Systems, Inc.: 1-800‑428‑9623; www.chexhelp.com

Fax: 602‑659‑2197
Chex Systems, Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
 

You may ask the banks for a copy of the application or the business transaction records relating to your ID Theft, if you think that this information will be helpful to prove that are you are a victim.They must provide this information free of charge.

What do I do if my bank won't correct the fraud?

Different laws determine your legal remedies based on the type of bank fraud you have suffered.For example, state laws protect you against fraud committed by a thief using paper documents, like stolen or counterfeit checks.  But if the thief used an electronic fund transfer, federal law applies.  Many transactions may seem to be processed electronically but are still considered paper transactions.  If you're not sure what type of transaction the thief used to commit the fraud, ask the financial institution that processed the transaction. 

If you're having trouble getting your financial institution to help you resolve your banking-related ID Theft problems, including problems with bank-issued credit cards, contact the agency with the appropriate jurisdiction.If you're not sure which of the agencies listed below has jurisdiction over your institution, call your bank or visit www.ffiec.gov/nic.htm and click on "Institution Search".

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) - www.fdic.gov
The FDIC supervises state-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System and insures deposits at banks and savings and loans.

Call the FDIC Consumer Call Center at 1-800-934-3342; or write: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs, 550 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20429.

FDIC publications:

·         Classic Cons... And How to Counter Them -
www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsprg98/cons.html

·         A Crook Has Drained Your Account. Who Pays? -
www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsprg98/crook.html

·         Your Wallet: A Loser's Manual -
www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall97/wallet.html

Federal Reserve System (Fed) - www.federalreserve.gov
The Fed supervises state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System.

Call: 202-452-3693; or write: Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, Mail Stop 801, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC 20551; or contact the Federal Reserve Bank in your area.  The 12 Reserve Banks are located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco.

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) - www.ncua.gov
The NCUA charters and supervises federal credit unions and insures deposits at federal credit unions and many state credit unions.

Call: 703-518-6360; or write: Compliance Officer, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) - www.occ.treas.gov
The OCC charters and supervises national banks.  If the word "national" appears in the name of a bank, or the initials "N.A." follow its name, the OCC oversees its operations.

Call: 1-800-613-6743 (business days 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST); fax: 713-336-4301; write: Customer Assistance Group, 1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3710, Houston, TX 77010.

OCC publications:

·         Check Fraud: A Guide to Avoiding Losses -
www.occ.treas.gov/chckfrd/chckfrd.pdf

·         How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of ID Theft -
www.occ.treas.gov/idtheft.pdf

Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) - www.ots.treas.gov
The OTS is the primary regulator of all federal, and many state-chartered, thrift institutions, which include savings banks and savings and loan institutions.

Call: 202-906-6000; or write: Office of Thrift Supervision, 1700 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20552.

Back

What do I do if someone has opened new credit accounts in my name?

Contact the fraud department of each creditor.  Close the accounts and dispute any charges run up on those accounts.Do not pay the charges.Most creditors will require you to fill out fraud forms.To save yourself time, ask if the company accepts the ID Theft Affidavit.If not, ask the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms.  Find out what, if any, other documentation, such as a police report, the company will need.  You may ask creditors for a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your ID Theft, if you think that this information will be helpful to prove that are you are a victim.  Creditors must provide this information free of charge.

How do I contact the company that has opened fraudulent accounts?

If the company is listed in your credit report, the credit bureau can provide the contact information.  If it's a well-known company, you may be able to obtain a listing from your telephone directory book or the toll-free directory (1-800-555-1212).  You also can use a search engine on the Internet, or your local librarian may be able to help you.

Back

How do I stop debt collectors from contacting me?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that a creditor has forwarded for collection.

You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop.  Once the debt collector receives your letter, the company may not contact you again - with two exceptions: they can tell you there will be no further contact and they can tell you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.

A collector also may not contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the written notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe the money.In this case, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt.  So, along with your letter stating you don't owe the money, include copies of documents that support your position.  Including a copy (NOT an original) of the police report you filed may be particularly useful.

If you don't have documentation to support your position, be as specific as possible about why the debt collector is mistaken.  The debt collector is responsible for sending you proof that you're wrong.For example, if the debt in dispute originates from a credit card you never applied for, ask for the actual application containing the applicant's signature.You can then prove that it's not your signature on the application.  

If you tell the debt collector that you are a victim of ID Theft and it is collecting the debt for another company, the debt collector must tell that company that you may be a victim of ID Theft.

Remember, while you can stop the debt collectors from contacting you, that won't necessarily get rid of the debt itself.  It's important to contact the creditors individually to dispute the debt, otherwise, the creditor may send it to a different debt collector, report it on your credit report, or institute a lawsuit.

For more information, consult Fair Debt Collection.

Back

 Other crimes


What do I do if someone has filed for bankruptcy in my name?

If you believe someone has filed for bankruptcy in your name, write to the U.S. Trustee (UST) in the region where the bankruptcy was filed.A list of the U.S. Trustee Program's Regional Offices is available on the UST Web site, or check the Blue Pages of your phone book under U.S. Government Bankruptcy Administration.

Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your identity.The U.S. Trustee, if appropriate, will make a criminal referral to law enforcement authorities if you provide appropriate documentation to substantiate your claim.  You also may want to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy was filed.The U.S. Trustee does not provide legal representation, legal advice or referrals to lawyers.  That means you may need to hire an attorney to help convince the bankruptcy court that the filing is fraudulent.  The U.S. Trustee does not provide consumers with copies of court documents.Those documents are available from the bankruptcy clerk's office for a fee.

For more information, see U. S. Trustee - www.usdoj.gov/ust

 

Back

What do I do about criminal records in my name?

Although procedures to correct your record within criminal justice databases vary from state to state, and even from county to county, the following information can be used as a general guide.

If criminal violations are wrongfully attributed to your name, contact the arresting or citing law enforcement agency - that is, the police or sheriff's department that originally arrested the person using your identity, or the court agency that issued the warrant for the arrest.  File an impersonation report to confirm your identity.The police department may take a full set of your fingerprints and your photograph, and copies any photo identification documents like your driver's license, passport or visa.  They should compare the prints and photographs with those of the imposter to establish your innocence.  If the arrest warrant is from a state or county other than where you live, ask your local police department to send the impersonation report to the police department in the jurisdiction where the arrest warrant, traffic citation or criminal conviction originated.

The law enforcement agency should then recall any warrants and issue a "clearance letter" or certificate of release (if you were arrested/booked).You'll need to keep this document with you at all times in case you're wrongly arrested.  Also, ask the law enforcement agency to file, with the district attorney's (D.A.) office and/or court where the crime took place, the record of the follow-up investigation establishing your innocence.  This will result in an amended complaint being issued.Once your name is recorded in a criminal database, it's unlikely that it will be completely removed from the official record.Ask that the "key name," or "primary name," be changed from your name to the imposter's name (or to "John Doe" if the imposter's true identity is not known), with your name noted only as an alias.

You'll also want to clear your name in the court records.  You'll need to determine which state law(s) will help you do this and how.If your state has no formal procedure for clearing your record, contact the D.A.'s office in the county where the case was originally prosecuted.  Ask the D.A.'s office for the appropriate court records needed to clear your name.

Contact your state DMV to find out if your driver's license is being used by the identity thief.Ask that your files be flagged for possible fraud.

Finally, you may need to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you clear your name.Contact Legal Services in your state or your local bar association for help in finding an attorney.


What do I do if the thief has gotten a DL in my name?

If you think your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your DMV.If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.

Back

What do I do about investment transactions made in my name?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Assistance serves investors who complain to the SEC about investment fraud or the mishandling of their investments by securities professionals.If you believe that an identity thief has tampered with your securities investments or a brokerage account, immediately report it to your broker or account manager and to the SEC.  You can file a complaint with the SEC using the online Complaint Center at: www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.

Be sure to include as much detail as possible.  If you don't have access to the Internet, you can write to the SEC at: SEC Office of Investor Education and Assistance, 450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington DC, 20549-0213.  For general questions, call 202-942-7040.)  For general information: www.sec.gov.

What do I do about stolen mail or fraudulent changes of address?

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service and is responsible for investigating cases of ID Theft.USPIS has primary jurisdiction in all matters infringing on the integrity of the U.S. mail.If an identity thief has stolen your mail to get new credit cards, bank or credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers or tax information, has falsified change-of-address forms, or obtained your personal information through a fraud conducted by mail, report it to your local postal inspector.You can locate the USPIS district office nearest you by calling your local post office or checking the list at www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect.

Back

What do I do if my passport is lost or stolen?

If you've lost your passport or believe it was stolen, or is being used fraudulently, contact the United States Department of State (USDS) at http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/about/npic/npic_898.html, or call a local USDS field office.Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory.

Back

What do I do if the thief has obtained phone service in my name?

If an identity thief has established phone service in your name, is making unauthorized calls that seem to come from - and are billed to - your cellular phone, or is using your calling card and PIN, contact your service provider immediately to cancel the account and/or calling card.  Open new accounts and choose new PINs.  If you're having trouble getting fraudulent phone charges removed from your account or getting an unauthorized account closed, contact the appropriate agency from the list below.

For local service, contact your state Public Utility Commission, listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory.

For cellular phones and long distance, contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - www.fcc.gov.The FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.You can contact the FCC's Consumer Information Bureau to find out about information, forms, applications and current issues before the FCC.  Call: 1-888-CALL-FCC; TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC; or write: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer Information Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 5A863, Washington, DC 20554.  You can file complaints via the online complaint form at www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html, or e-mail questions to fccinfo@fcc.gov.


Back

What do I do if the thief has used my ID to take out a student loan?

Contact the school or program that opened the student loan to close the loan.  At the same time, report the fraudulent loan to the U.S. Department of Education. 

Call:      Inspector General's Hotline at 1-800-MIS-USED  

Online:  http://www.ed.gov/offices/OIG/hotline.htm 

Write:  Office of Inspector General
            U.S. Department of Education
            400 Maryland Avenue, SW
            Washington, DC 20202-1510

What do I do if the thief is using my ID to file tax returns?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (www.treas.gov/irs/ci) is responsible for administering and enforcing tax laws.  If you believe someone has assumed your identity to file federal Income Tax Returns, or to commit other tax fraud, call toll-free: 1-800-829-0433.Victims of ID Theft who are having trouble filing their returns should call the IRS Taxpayer Advocates Office, toll-free: 1-877-777-4778.

Back

Can a credit repair company clear up my record for me?

Claims by companies that they can clear up your credit record are often misleading or false.ID Theft victims, in particular, need to clear up debts with the original creditor.  Most companies won't deal with a third party.For more information, see Credit Repair: Self-Help May Be Best.

What should I do if I have done everything you've advised and I am still having problems?

There are cases where victims do everything right and still spend years dealing with problems related to ID Theft.  The good news is that most victims can get their cases resolved by being vigilant, assertive and organized.  Don't procrastinate on contacting companies to address the problems.Don't be afraid to go up the chain of command or make complaints, if necessary.  Keep organized files.  If you haven't filed a complaint with the FTC or updated it, you should do so and provide details of the problems that you are having.If your problems are stemming from a failure of a party to perform its legal obligations, you may want to consult an attorney who specializes in such violations.  Contact Legal Services in your state or your local bar association for help in finding an attorney.

Back

Home   |   Terms & Conditions    |   Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2004 IDTheft.com All Rights Reserved