Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information.
Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:
The best way to find out is to monitor your accounts and bank statements each month and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft. For more information, visit the Detect Identity Theft section.
Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name. To learn more about these steps and more, visit the DEFEND: Recover from Identity Theft section. To file a complaint, click here.
Awareness is an effective weapon against many forms of identity theft. Be aware of how information is stolen and what you can do to protect yours, monitor your personal information to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen. Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.
Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
Equifax Credit Information Services
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Phone: To request a credit report: 800-685-1111 Option 4
To report fraud: 800-525-6285
Web site: www.equifax.com
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
Phone: (888) 397-3742
Web site: www.experian.com
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
Phone: To request a credit report: 800-916-8800
To report fraud: 800-680-7289
Web site: www.transunion.com
Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created by these three companies, to order your free credit reports each year. You also can write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and take action, you can make identity thieves’ jobs much more difficult. You can also help fight identity theft by educating your friends, family, and members of your community. The FTC has prepared a collection of easy-to-use materials to enable anyone regardless of existing knowledge about identity theft to inform others about this serious crime. To learn more, click here.
If you feel you are a victim of identity theft, contact anyone that you have a financial relationship with, including banks and credit card companies, and the police. Keep a written record of everything related to the incident and all people/companies you contact. You can also contact the following agencies:
Federal Trade Commission
Identity Theft Clearing House
Social Security Administration
Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271
The Federal Trade Commission has an identity theft hotline 877-438-4338 and a website www.ftc.gov that is a very useful tool for consumers.