The following recommended steps may help detect and reduce the recovery time of an identity theft:
Contact all three credit reporting agencies and get copies of your credit report. You may order a free credit report online from each credit reporting agency at www.annualcreditreport.com.
TransUnion – Phone: 800-680-7289 P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19016-1000
Experian Phone: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013
Equifax – Phone: 880-525-6285 P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348
- Review all three of your credit reports carefully according to the steps below.
- Recognize all accounts listed in your report and confirm that the balances are in line with your records.
- Recognize all persons and entities that have requested or received a copy of your report. (If you don’t recognize a person or entity, you may want to inquire further).
- Find inquiries to your credit report for loans or accounts you did not apply for. (If there are accounts you do not recognize, this may be a sign that an identity thief has fraudulently opened an account in your name).
- Confirm there are no addresses listed for places you have never lived. (If there are addresses you do not recognize, this may be a sign that an identity thief has redirected your mail).
- Check that all this information is consistent across all three credit bureaus.
If you find any incorrect or suspicious information, contact the credit bureaus immediately. If there is incorrect or suspicious information concerning a particular creditor, you will want to contact that creditor as well.
- Place a 90 day Fraud Alert on your credit profile with each of the three credit reporting agencies. Renew that alert every 90 days for at least one year. Placing a 90 day fraud alert on your credit profile entitles you to a free credit report.
- Victims of identity theft may also request an Extended Alert from the three major credit reporting agencies, which stays in their credit file for seven years. If you ask for an Extended Alert, you will have to provide a copy of an identity theft report, which is a report you have filed with a federal, state or local law enforcement agency. An Extended Alert entitles you to two additional free credit reports from each credit reporting agency in a 12-month period following the placing of the alert.
- The surest resource available to prevent identity theft is a Consumer Credit Freeze. A Credit Freeze simply means that new credit accounts will not be approved and your credit file cannot be accessed by anyone without your approval. Even if thieves have all of your personal identifying information, they still won’t be allowed to get credit in your name. Victims of identity theft that provide a copy of an identity theft report will receive a Consumer Credit Freeze at no charge from the three Credit Reporting Agencies.
To find out if the three credit reporting agencies have credit information about your minor child, you will need to write a letter to each agency (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) with the following information: A copy of your driver’s license or another government issued identification card, such as a state ID card, military ID card, etc.; proof of your address, such as a copy of a bank statement, utility bill, insurance statement, etc.; a copy of your child’s birth certificate; a copy of your child’s Social Security card; your child’s full name, including middle initial and generation, such as JR, SR, II, III, etc.; your child’s date of birth; and previous addresses for the past two years.
Financial Statement Review
- Carefully review every credit card and bank statement for unauthorized charges.
- If you identify unauthorized charges, contact all creditors and financial institutions and inform them of the situation.
- If an account has been compromised, contact the financial institution and close all compromised accounts.
- Contact your financial institutions and request they flag your accounts. Instruct them to contact you immediately if there is unusual activity on your accounts.
- If an account was opened fraudulently in your name, contact the financial institution and obtain a copy of the credit application and a detailed account history. Close all fraudulent accounts.
- Check that your Social Security Number and employment history are accurate.
- During the next year, order a free credit report online from each credit reporting agency at www.annualcreditreport.com. Order these from one agency at a time, four months apart, so you spread out your reports across the next 12 months. Review the reports for any unauthorized or unknown information.
Contact Law Enforcement
After you have reviewed your credit reports, if you believe that someone has established credit accounts in your name, conducted transactions without your permission, or used financial or personal information in any other way, file a report on this web site: https://www.identitytheft.gov. Or contact your local police department to obtain a Police Report with a Case number. A police report entitles you to certain protections from the recurring effects of the crime, and is the surest way to clear your good name.
Maintain Accurate and Detailed Records
It is very important to keep good records of all conversations and a list of all communications with your financial institutions and law enforcement agencies. Also, maintain a log of the names, dates and phone number of persons you contacted. You also should confirm the information in writing. Sending your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested will provide you with a record of your correspondence.