are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission and from consumer advocates for dealing with identity theft.
you should report any incident of identity theft as soon as possible and keep track of everyone
you talk to and report your theft to. Keep dates and times and names.
Then put a fraud alert
on your credit files. Actually, you can put a fraud alert on your credit files even before
your identity is stolen. Fraud alerts help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name.
Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below-- Experian, Equifax or TransUnion,
to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company
you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too.
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order one free copy of your credit report from each
of the three consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will
appear on your credit reports. Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from
companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check
that information, like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers are correct. If you find
fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed by contacting the credit reporting companies and explaining to them in
writing why these are not your doing-- and may be the work of an identity thief.
Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year
after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.Next, be sure you close any accounts that the thief opened or tampered with. Call and speak with someone in
the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting
documents. It's important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. They may ask for a copy of the
police report you filed about your identity theft. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so
you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
When you open new accounts, use new Personal
Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name,
your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
I know this can be difficult, but try to avoid using the same password or PIN for different accounts. If a crook can
get a hold of one PIN he will have access to all of the accounts using that PIN or password. Yes, I know that it is
difficult to have many different passwords or PINs in this day and age when so many accounts call for a password or PIN.
If the identity
thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute
you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the company, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed
accounts and has discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear
on your credit report or you are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.You should also file a report or complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can file a complaint with
the FTC by calling the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity
Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the
Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
Earlier in this report I told you about filing a police report. Yes, you
should file a police report. Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your
identity theft. Ask them if you can file the report in person. If the police are reluctant to take your
report, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incident" report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police.