Coping with Identity Theft

If you have recently been the victim of identity theft, the following tips are offered to assist you in resolving any problems associated with this crime. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of businesses and organizations that you might find useful are also listed.

If you fall prey to such crime, immediately contact the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus and all creditors with whom your name has been used fraudulently.

If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the six check verification companies, stop payment on outstanding checks through your bank, cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account (not your mother’s maiden name).

Write a form letter that can be mailed or faxed whenever you receive an inquiry about fraudulent checks written from your bank account. The letter should give a brief description of what happened, check numbers and check manufacturer (obtained from your bank), bank account number, case number (assigned by the police or law enforcement agency with jurisdiction), the name of the detective handling your case, and the name and phone number of the customer service representative at your bank.

If your ATM card has been stolen or compromised, get a new card, account number and password.

If someone has submitted a fraudulent change-of-address to the post office to illegally receive credit cards in your name, notify your Postal Inspector, find out where the fraudulent cards were sent, and tell the Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk to the mail carrier.

If someone else obtains your Social Security number, call the Social Security Administration (SSA). As a last resort, the SSA may allow you to change your number. If you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport using your Social Security number.

If your long distance calling card has been stolen, or you find fraudulent charges on your bill, cancel the account immediately and open a new one. Provide a password that must be used any time the account is changed.

If your driver’s license number is being misused – to write bad checks, for example – contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if another license has been issued in your name. If so, put a fraud alert on your license and request a new number immediately.