Victims of fraud or identity theft need to report the theft to various authorities. By taking the proper corrective action, victims can reduce the risk of further theft, and start a process that will clean up the inaccurate information appearing on their credit report.
Recent statistics indicate nearly ten million adults in the United States are victims of identity theft each year. In this article, we're going to discuss the measures individuals can take if they discover they're a victim. This includes reporting the theft to credit reporting agencies, law enforcement officers, as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
In general, victims of identity theft should have three concerns:
It's important to keep accurate, complete, and organized documentation. This includes both the corrective measures taken and notifications provided to authorities. When composing and compiling this documentation, it's important to:
Victims often discover both identity theft and account fraud at the same time. The following four steps will help mitigate any short-term negative effects:
Identity thieves can do a lot of damage to credit reports. To prevent, reduce, or eliminate the damage, victims should file a fraud alert with each credit bureau. The alert will require the victim to complete additional steps when applying for new credit, but it will also prevent thieves from opening new accounts.
The three major credit-reporting agencies each have a toll-free telephone number that can be used to report the theft. That toll-free telephone number, as well as the agency's mailing address appears below:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30348
Toll-Free Number: 1-866 349-5191
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Toll-Free Number: 1-888-EXPERIAN
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
Toll-Free Number: 1-800-680-7289
An identity theft report is nothing more than a police report that includes enough information to prove to credit bureaus the filer was a victim. A standard police report will not contain sufficient details about the account, or accounts, which were stolen.
Ideally, the FTC's Identity Theft Complaint Form would be appended to the standard police report. Local police officials are not required to use the FTC form, and may even refuse to complete one. If that occurs, they will capture enough details in their police report, which should have two parts:
If a new or existing account has been tampered with, the victim will need to call that company and speak to an agent that deals with cases of fraud. As mentioned earlier, keep a written record of all conversations, including the dates, names of persons contacted, and the topics discussed.
Victims may be asked to mail supporting documents. Never send original materials, provide agencies with a copy. If possible, send written correspondence using the Return Receipt process established by the U.S.P.S.
Victims may also be required to complete a dispute form or an ID Theft Affidavit. Once the fraud dispute has been resolved, make sure the company has closed the account in question and verified, in writing, that it has discharged the fraudulent debt.
As a final step in reporting identity theft, register reports with local, state, and federal law enforcement officials. If local law enforcement officials are reluctant to take a report, remind them of the importance of the document to credit bureaus.
A credit bureau may require a police report before they will resolve a dispute. They'll also need a report before they'll agree to block future charges, remove a disputed debt, or add a fraud alert to a credit report.
If a local police department refuses to file a report, then a county police department should be contacted. If not successful at the county level, then file a report with the state police department.
Victims should also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which can be done using the form mentioned earlier. Victims can also call the FTC's toll free telephone number 1-800-ID-THEFT. Alternatively, it's possible to write to the FTC at the address given below:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
About the Author - Reporting Identity Theft