What To Do If Your Identity is Stolen

Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission.  It can damage your credit status and ability to utilize credit. If you suspect someone has stolen your identity, it’s important to take action immediately. The consequences can be disastrous, but following these steps will help secure your information and prevent your credit from getting tarnished by someone else’s actions.

Most Common forms of Identity Theft 
– Account Takeover Fraud
– Debit Card Fraud or Credit Card Fraud
– Driver’s License Identity Theft
– Mail Identity Theft
– Online Shopping Fraud
– Social Security Number Identity Theft
– Senior Citizen Identity Theft and Scams
– Child Identity Theft

8 Self-Help Steps for Identity Theft Victims 

1) File a Police Report

File a Police Report with the local police department and request a copy of the report for your files. A copy of the police report must accompany all disputes to the bank and or creditor.

2) Contact the Bank or Creditor

When you discover suspicious charges or withdrawals on an account, immediately contact the bank or creditor and inform them that the charges were not made by you. Follow up the call with a letter confirming specific details of the issue. Keep a copy of all correspondence for your files.

3) File ID Theft Affidavit with the FTC

Identity Theft must be reported to the Federal Trade Commission through submission of an Identity Theft Affidavit.  This form must be completed and signed in the presence of a law enforcement officer, then submitted to the Federal Trade Commission.
For an Identity Theft Affidavit:
CALL:      FTC Identity Theft Hotline
                 877-ID-THEFT  or  (877-438-4338)
ONLINE:  identitytheft.gov
Retain a copy of your submitted affidavit.

4) File a Fraud Alert with each credit bureau

After discovering suspicious activity on a credit card or bank account statement, contact the three main credit bureaus – Transunion, Experian and Equifax –  to place a fraud alert on your credit file.

A fraud alert letter, accompanied by the police report, notifies the credit bureaus that you’re a victim of identity theft. Afterwards, the bureaus must confirm with you any new applications for accounts before authorizing approval.  Fraud alerts remain on credit files for 90
days and are free to the consumer.

5) Request Your Credit Report

Credit Report RequestRequest a copy of your credit report directly from each of the three main bureaus — Transunion, Experian and Equifax.  Review each report for listings of accounts or entries that do not belong to you or that you don’t recognize.

6) Send a Blocking Letter to the Credit Bureau

After review of your credit reports and identification of accounts that do not belong to you, a Blocking Letter should be sent to the credit bureau. The Blocking Letter confirms:
– You are an identity theft victim
– Suspicious or unrecognizable accounts.
– Accounts blocked from all future transactions or charges.

A Blocking Letter must include a copy of the police report filed, a current copy of your credit report with unrecognizable items circled, and a copy of your Fraud Alert Letter sent to the credit bureau.

7) Keep a Good Paper Trail of all Documents & Correspondence

Organize your files with all information related to the identity theft.  As each case of identity theft is unique, it can take months, or even years to untangle the fraud and restore your credit.

Documents must be readily accessible    Maintain files that are categorized by police records, credit bureaus, banks, and creditors. Assemble all correspondence, statements, phone logs, photographs, and notes for easy access and reference for future correspondence.

8) Protect Your Personal Information

Minimize the risk of identity theft for the future.

  • Keep your social security card in a safe space, not on your person.
  • Shred documents that have personal information like your social security number, bank account number or PIN, and credit card number.
  • Never provide personal information over the phone or online unless you have verified that the requesting party is legitimate.
  • Use secure, complex passwords. Don’t repeat passwords across websites. Keep your passwords in a safe place.  You may want to consider using a password storing tool to list your accounts and passwords.

Experienced Consumer Lawyers to Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm representing victims of credit reporting errors and privacy violations and contact from abusive collection tactics which stem from identity theft.

If you have become a victim of identity theft and notice errors on your credit report, or have received calls or letters from debt collectors, Contact Us for a free consultation.  Our attorneys will evaluate whether your consumer rights have been violated.  Pictured above:
Attorneys Cary Flitter (center), Andy Milz (left), Jody López-Jacobs (right)