You must deal with fraud as soon as you catch it to minimize the damage to your credit score. Criminals will use your accounts and open new ones until they are stopped. A fraud report stops them and alerts creditors you are a victim. It is a critical step to reclaiming your identity and fixing your finances.
Call one of three major credit bureaus and file a fraud alert on your credit report. You can notify Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. Each company maintains 24-hour fraud-alert phone numbers. You can get these phone numbers from the individual companies' Websites. The chosen bureau will ask for some personal information to confirm your identity and put an alert on your report for 90 days. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains it will contact the other two bureaus so they can add alerts, too.
File a fraud complaint with the FTC. You can do this over the telephone or through the online complaint form on the FTC Website. Print out a copy to provide to law enforcement officials in the event you decided to file a police report. Also provide a copy to the credit bureaus and lenders as proof that you have been victimized.
Call your local police department and explain you need to make a police report because you are a fraud victim. The FTC advises talking to the state police if your local officers are reluctant to help you. You must get an official report because it is required to extend the initial fraud alerts you filed with the credit bureaus.
Contact Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and request a fraud alert extension. Your alert will remain in place for seven years if you provide a copy of your police report and FTC complaint. The warns lenders to take extra confirmation steps before extending any new credit in your name. The alert does not legally obligate them to do this, but most honor it because they do not want to open fraudulent accounts that will never be paid.
According to the FTC, individual states may have laws that require local police to take reports on alleged fraud and identity theft. Call your state attorney general's office if the police department won't make a report. Find out if your state laws require it, and if so, request assistance to get the police to help.
You may be approached by collection agencies after a fraud incident, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. These agencies will be seeking payment for bills created by the identity thief. Save copies of your fraud reports to prove you are not liable for payment.