Identity Theft

If you become the victim of identity theft, it is important to act immediately to stop the thief's further use of your identity. Immediately contact all your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers. Ask that the old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (This is better than "card lost or stolen," because when this statement is reported to credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.)

Credit Reporting Companies
Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards and/or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report such as, "My ID has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX (your phone number) to verify all applications." Notify your bank(s) of the theft. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Ask the bank to issue you a secret password that must be used in every transaction. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of.

ATM Cards
If you use the ATM card for banking services, get a new card, account number, and password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, avoid such commonly used numbers as the last four digits of your Social Security number and your birth date.

Stolen Checks or Fraudulent Bank Accounts
If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to Telecheck and National Processing Company (NPC). These check guarantee companies will flag your file so that bogus checks will be turned down. Call Telecheck at 800-366-2425. Call NPC at 800-526-5380.

Secret Service
The Secret Service has jurisdiction over financial fraud cases. This federal government agency usually does not investigate individual cases unless the dollar amount is very high. To interest the Secret Service in your case, ask someone in the fraud department of your credit card companies and/or banks to notify the particular SS agent they work with.

Social Security Administration
Notify the Social Security Administration's office of the Inspector General if your SSN has been used fraudulently. You may want to have your SSN changed if your number has become associated with bad checks and credit. CAUTION: This step should be reserved for only the most extreme situations. You must be sure to notify all credit grantors and credit reporting bureaus of your new SSN.

Passport / Utilities
If you have a passport, notify the passport office to be on the look out for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently. Call your telephone, electrical, gas and water utilities. Alert them to the possibility that someone may attempt to open new service using your identification. Also contact your long distance company.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service
The nearest office of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service might be able to help you remove fraudulent claims from your credit report. Call 800-388-2227. In dealing with the authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, including dates and names. Send correspondence by certified mail. Keep copies of all letters and documents. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime.

Legal Counsel
Consider seeking legal counsel, especially if you have difficulty clearing up your credit history, or your case is complex and involves a lot of money. An attorney can help you recover from the fraud and determine whether your rights under various credit banking, SSN, and other laws have been violated.

Mental Health
Pay attention to your own mental health. Victims of identity theft report that they often feel they are somehow to blame. They can also feel violated, even powerless, due in large part to the fact that few, if any, of the authorities who have been notified of the crime step forward to help the victim. Discuss your situation with a trusted friend or counselor. Seek help from a victims' rights organization.

Credit Reporting Bureaus
Copy of Report
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Dispute Report
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Order Credit Report Ph: 800-685-1111
Opt Out of Marketing Lists Ph: 800-219-1251
Report Fraud Ph: 800-525-6285

Trans Union
Copy of Report
P.O. Box 7000
North Olmstead, OH 44070

Trans Union Dispute Report
P.O. Box 403
Springfield, PA 19064

Order Credit Report Ph: 800-851-2674
Opt Out of Marketing Lists Ph: 800-241-2858
Report Fraud Ph: 800-680-7289

Copy of Report Dispute Report
Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104

Order Credit Report Ph: 888-397-3742
Opt Out of Marketing Lists Ph: 800-353-0809

Remember, if you have been denied credit, you are entitled to a free credit report. To remove your name from mailing lists (Direct Marketing Association), contact:
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Telephone Preference Service
P.O. Box 9015
Farmingdale, NY 11735

To report fraudulent use of your checks, call your bank, Telecheck (800-366-2425) or National Processing Company (NPC) 800-526-5380.