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In the first half of 2022, the FTC registered 603,591 identity theft cases across the U.S, including 230,937 credit card fraud complaints. If you’re a victim and wish to file a report, stay calm. Please refer to this article for guidance on reporting identity theft and preventing financial loss.
How to report identity theft?
If you realize your identity has been stolen, take quick action. Filing a report is one of the important steps.
Report to the FTC
Visit the IdentityTheft.gov website to report your identity theft, and you’ll get an ID theft report.
Report by Phone
Call 1-877-438-4338 to report the ID theft details, but you won’t get an ID theft report this way.
It’s suggested to report online so that you can get a theft report as proof for other incoming events. The FTC will collect the details of your situation by asking some questions. After that, they’ll create a personal recovery plan. If you create an account, they’ll walk you through each step and you can check the progress online.
Report to credit bureaus
Contact the credit bureaus to place a free, one-year alert. A business must verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name when you have an alert on your report. As a result, it makes it harder for a thief to open accounts in your name.
You just need to contact one of the three, and it must tell the other two to place an alert. In addition, you’ll receive a letter from each of them, confirming they have done the job on your file. And you can renew the fraud alert after one year.
Apart from that, you can check your credit reports from these three bureaus. Due to the pandemic, you can check it every week for free through December 2023.
Specific types of identity theft
You may choose to report specific types of identity theft to corresponding federal agencies.
- Medical identity theft — Medicare’s fraud office
- Tax identity theft — Internal Revenue Service
- unemployment identity theft — state’s labor department
Call the companies where the fraud occurred
If you have found certain evidence of someone impersonating you, such as a new bank account, medical bills, or lost funds, contact the corresponding companies.
Talk to their fraud department and explain that someone stole your identity. Ask them to close or freeze the accounts and change the logins, and passwords. You may need to provide your FTC identity theft report.
File police report (optional)
You can report the identity theft to the police in case some creditors or companies require you to provide a police report. Bring the following documents to your local police office and ask for a copy of the police report:
- A copy of your FTC identity theft report
- A government-issued ID with a photo (e.g. driving license, passport)
- Proof of your address (e.g. utility bill, mortgage statement)
- Any proof you have of the theft (e.g. bills, IRS notices)
Credit freezes (optional)
A credit freeze (aka security freeze) stops others from opening accounts in your name and new creditors from accessing your credit file. You can freeze and unfreeze your credit record for free at the three credit bureaus. Note that you have to contact each of them because they won’t notify other bureaus as a fraud alert does.
How to avoid financial loss after identity theft?
You may have noticed signs or evidence of identity theft. One straightforward consequence of being a victim of ID theft is that you may suffer financial loss. The thief with your credit card might use your money and make a transfer. You may fail to avoid charges if you don’t act fast.
However, another hidden impact lies in your credit scores. If a thief opens new credit cards in your name and can’t offer to pay the bills, your scores may be negatively affected.
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