Help! My identity has been stolen. What should I do?

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

A very important topic today found everywhere in the media, the front page news, and every month there seems to be a new security breach.  But what do you do if it actually happens to you?  Here's some advice:

  • Immediately after the discovery of identity theft, create an Identity Theft Affidavit through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • With your completed Affidavit, file a police report.
  • Together, your Affidavit and police report form your Identity Theft Report. You will need copies of this report to send to credit agencies and the IRS. 
  • Pull your credit report! (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). These should be free because you have been the victim of fraud.
  • Have the credit reporting agencies place a fraud alert on your file. You will only need to contact one bureau, which will notify the others.
  • Write letters disputing each charge and send certified mail with a copy of your credit report highlighting the error. Do this for each error reporting from each agency.
  • Request to have information that was the result of the identity theft blocked from your credit report.
  • As problems are resolved, obtain a new credit report. Identity theft can have long-running ramifications, so keep up with your credit report regularly.
Contact Lending Institutions that Issued Credit

  • Get in touch with the fraud departments at the companies that erroneously authorized credit to the thief in your name.
  • Send these companies the same letters and credit report copies.
  • Ask the companies to block fraudulent information, and the company will have to stop reporting the fraudulent information and will not be able to sell the debt for collection.
  • Request copies of the documents that were fraudulently used to get credit or make changes in your name. This will enable you to have a copy of the fraudulent signature. The company is required to send it to you within 30 days of your request.
Inform the IRS

  • As indicated above, tax identity theft is also a problem. In this case, the thief has used a taxpayer’s identity and real or falsified W-2s to file fraudulent returns claiming a refund. You may not know this has happened until you file and find out your refund has already been taken.
  • If you think someone has stolen your refund or used your social security number, notify the IRS immediately.
  • Fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
  • When you receive correspondence from the IRS, respond right away.