According to the Federal Trade Commission website, identity theft occurs when an individual's personal information is stolen and used by someone else. The FTC estimates that nine million Americans have their identity stolen every year. There are many forms of identity theft including driver's license, bank account, credit card, phone utilities, and Social Security numbers. When an individual discovers that personal information has been stolen and used, there are a series of steps that must be taken in order to catch the identity thief and stop the identity use.
Determine what personal information has been stolen and used in order to devise the best plan of action to minimize the amount of money that is spent as well as the damage that is caused to the individual's personal credit. The Federal Trade Commission website explains that the individual should begin by filing a complaint with the FTC. The process of dealing with identity theft can be lengthy, but it is very important.
File a police report that contains detailed information about the exact type of identity theft as well as the actions of the thief. The Lawyers website explains that the police report is an important documentation of the identity theft. When an individual contacts his bank, credit report company and debt collection agencies it will be necessary to provide a copy of the police report.
Call the bank, credit card company or company where identity theft has been used to purchase items or access the individual's money. The FTC website explains that credit card companies and banks have fraud departments that will handle the identity theft issue and correct the account or card information. Banks and credit card companies have insurance that cover customers so that money spent by a thief can be replaced.
Contact the major credit reporting agencies in order to report the identity theft and have the individual's account flagged in case fraud activity occurs. The Lawyers website explains that the three major credit agencies are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. It is also important for the individual to contact debt collection agencies in order to begin to resolve fraud charges that exist under the individual's name.
Contact the FTC as well as the Internal Revenue Service in order to deal with Social Security theft. The Social Security Administration website also explains that the individual should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (link found in Resources section of this article). The Social Security website explains that it is not advisable to get a new Social Security number because it will not take away the identity theft issues.
Complete all of the steps in order to work toward catching the identity thief. Once the victim provides the police, FTC and Internal Revenue Service with all of the known information, those organizations will investigate and attempt to locate the source of the identity theft. The most important aspect is for the individual to minimize the credit damage and debts that can be associated with identity theft.
Things You'll Need
access to credit check
bank account statements
regular bill statements
contact information for bank and companies
contact information for debt collection agencies
Social Security contact information
police department report