Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

What to Do When Someone Has Stolen Your Identity

Identity theft remains a growing concern as the world becomes increasingly digital. So what should you do in the case of a stolen identity? 

The key is responding immediately once you discover the stolen identity. By contrast, many identity theft victims miss early warning signs and wait before they respond. Even if you discover identify theft after the damage has been done, there is a lot that you can do about it

There is much at stake when you suffer a stolen identity. Identity theft victims on average lose $10,000 per attack, though they can typically recover the stolen money. Fortunately here at FindLaw, we're on top of it. Here are some steps you can take if you suffer identity theft. 

1. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports

If you contact any of the three companies that maintain credit reports, they are required to contact the others to alert them of the potential fraud. However, it's still a good idea to contact all three. The credit reporting companies are: 

  • 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)
  • Experian: (1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013)

2. Close All Accounts That May Have Been Tampered or Opened Fraudulently

Any accounts that you suspect have been compromised should be closed. Contact each company's fraud or security department, and follow up in writing.

3. File a Complaint with the FTC

By filing with the FTC, you accomplish two important goals: it helps you recover your money and also helps law enforcement officials track down and apprehend identity thieves. To contact the FTC, you can go to:

  • 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338), TYY: 1-866-653-4261; www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov; Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580.

4. File a Police Report

Contact local police department and file an official report about your identity theft. Frequently, the report can be filed over the phone or internet. 

There are also a number of additional actions that you may want to take. For more information, check out our Learn About the Law article entitled "Stolen Identity: What to Do."

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