If you realize that someone has stolen your identity, it can be overwhelming. This guide can help you take things step by step and feel more in control.
What to Do Immediately
As soon as you recognize that your identity has been stolen you should act to stop any further damage from occurring.
- Begin by contacting the fraud departments at companies and financial institutions where you know fraud has occurred or has the potential to occur. Tell them that your identity has been stolen and they can help you close or freeze your accounts. Change logins, passwords, and PINs for these accounts.
- Place a fraud alert with one of the main credit reporting companies – they will report the fraud to the other two agencies. This is a free service that will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts with your information. The three main credit reporting agencies are:
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through an online form^ or by calling 1-877-438-4338. Filing the report will help you dispute fraudulent accounts or charges in the future.
Repairing the Damage Over Time
Now that you have taken some immediate steps to minimize the damage to your credit and finances, make plans to protect yourself in the long term. You may not realize all the ways your identity has been affected right away.
and check their resources for specific types of identity theft including tax,
child, and medical. The site also provides very specific instructions for
different accounts such as checking account, phone or utility accounts,
investment, and more.
- Keep a record of conversations and start a file (electronic, paper, or both) for documents having to do with the identity theft.
- You may choose to file a report with your local police department to provide to creditors seeking proof of the crime.
- If your passport, driver’s license, or Social Security card were stolen, you will need to report them as stolen and replace them.
- If new accounts have been opened in your name, close them as soon as possible. Your FTC Identity Theft Report may be required to prove that you did not open the account and are not responsible for charges.
Identity theft takes time to recover from, but by focusing on staying calm and organized, you can regain your identity and financial well-being again.
Over time, you may need to dispute
new, fraudulent charges to accounts with companies and even debt collectors.
It’s important to dispute all fraudulent charges because they may affect your