If you think or know your personal information has been misused, act quickly.
- Monitor your financial accounts closely. Most credit card companies, credit unions, and banks allow you to monitor your accounts online. You can often set up e-mail or cell phone alerts to notify you in case of unusual activity.
- Report fraudulent charges immediately. Even small charges can indicate big problems. Crooks often make small charges to check if a credit card is valid, or make purchases less than $100 each on many different credit and debit cards to avoid attracting attention.
- Place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports. If you notice fraudulent activity, contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports; whichever one you contact is required to contact the others on your behalf. With a fraud alert, businesses will be able to review your credit report, but will be alerted to verify your identity before issuing you credit. With a credit freeze, businesses will not be able to access your credit file unless you provide a PIN number.
- Equifax: www.equifax.com
To report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285
Write: PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Hearing impaired, call: 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.
- Experian (formerly TRW): www.experian.com
To report fraud, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Write: PO Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
- Trans Union: www.transunion.com
To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289
Write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
- Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
- Know your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act for credit card loss or fraudulent charges. Your maximum liability for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50. If the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
- File a police report. Without one, many companies will refuse to take your case seriously. Some companies may also require you to file the identity theft affidavit available from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Start a file. Keep notes of every phone conversation, piece of correspondence and copies of your credit reports. Write down each person's name, title, and phone number in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
- Close compromised accounts and dispute fraudulent charges in writing. Keep in mind that closing accounts may hurt your credit scores, however, so you may want to close only those accounts that have been involved in the theft.
- Review your credit reports. When you place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, you're entitled to 2 free credit reports within 12 months from each of the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. You may also want to subscribe to a credit monitoring service so you'll be notified quickly of any new activity.
- File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Contact the FTC Identity Theft Hotline by phone at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TDD: 1-202-326-2502 or by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580 or online.
- Get help. Check with your insurance companies and employer to learn whether your benefits include identity theft resolution services or expense reimbursement.
Find sample letters, complaint forms, victim's bill of rights, and other tools on the FTC's Identity Theft Web site.