5 Actions After Identity Theft
Identity theft nabs about 13 people every minute, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you are a victim, take four steps ASAP:
1. Contact one credit bureau.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports to help prevent the thief from opening new accounts. Review your credit report for charges you did not make. You need only contact one credit bureau, and that company will alert the other two. Their toll-free numbers are:
2. Close breached accounts.
If you suspect accounts were breached, speak to the fraud department for each company. Notify credit card companies and banks in writing, and document what you sent. Keep a record of all conversations and correspondence.
If you are assigned a new account, use new passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers). If the thief made charges or opened new accounts, fill out forms to dispute those transactions.
3. File a report with police.
Filing a report with the police and providing the bank or credit card company with that identity theft report provides you greater protection.
Call and file an identity theft report, preferably in person. If local police don’t do that, call the Iowa Attorney General’s office for the procedure to file—888-777-4590.
The police officer should attach the FTC’s identity theft complaint form you’ve completed. Ask for copies.
4. File a complaint with the FTC.
You can file online or call the toll-free identity theft hotline, 877-438-4338. Filing the FTC complaint form, in conjunction with the police report, is used to permanently block fraud from appearing on your credit report. This also places an extended fraud alert on your credit report, and prevents debt collection that results from the identity theft.