IDENTITY THEFT

What to do if your personal information has been lost or stolen

1. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports.

  • Social Security number: Call the toll-free fraud number of any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies and place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports. An alert can help stop someone from opening new credit accounts in your name.

- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374

- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834

  • Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you’re entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your SSN will appear on your credit reports.

  • An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen.

  • An extended alert stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an “identity theft report”.

2. Close the Accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with.

  • Financial accounts: Close accounts immediately. When you open new accounts, place passwords on them. Avoid using your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number.

- Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company, and follow-up in writing including copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. Send your letter certified mail with a return receipt requested.

- If the identity thief has made charges on your accounts, or fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions.

- If the company already has reported these accounts or debts on your credit report, dispute this fraudulent information.

3. File a report with your local police department or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

- Then get a copy of the police report, or at the very least, the case number of the report.

- It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.

4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

-FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline: 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)

-TTY: 1-866-653-4261

-Or you can write to the Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.