What to do after you have been scammed!

Identity Theft: What to do if you've given your personal information to a scammer

Everyone makes a mistake once in a while, so let's assume you fell for one of the scammer's cons, and gave him your social security number, a fax of your passport, a credit card number, etc. What do you do now to prevent further damage, such as identity theft?

What should I do if I think my identity has been stolen or compromised?

If you think your identity may have been stolen, here's what to do now (Note: Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities):

  1. File a police report. Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime.

  2. Contact your bank - If you think you're a victim of identity theft or account fraud, you should call your bank, tell them what happened and ask them to monitor for unusual activity and advice whether you should close the account and open a new checking or savings account.

  3. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus  (outside of the US may have different agencies) to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Report the theft of your credit cards and/or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report that requests that they contact you to verify future credit applications. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts, and all three credit reports will be sent to you free of charge.  They will work with you to correct unauthorized transactions in your accounts and correct any incorrect reports to credit bureaus, as well as help to protect you from any future identity theft or account fraud. Also Call the fraud departments of all three credit bureaus. Ask them to put a "fraud alert" on your file. This tells creditors to call you before they open any more accounts in your name. Click on the blue link or call their phone number:

    • Equifax -  1-800-525-6285
      Consumer Fraud Div.
      P.O. Box 105496
      Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5496
    • Experian -  1-888-397-3742  
      P.O. Box 2104
      Allen, Texas 75013-2104
    • Transunion - 1-800-680-7289 
      Fraud Victim Assistance Dept.
      P.O. Box 390
      Springfield, PA 19064-0390
  4. Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. You should also follow up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your request in writing.
  5. Obtain new identity documents - If you sent your passport number or faxed a copy of it to the scammers, or done the same with your driver's license or other government documents, obtain a new document - be sure to explain what happened, so they cancel your old one and give you a new number.

  6. If you have seen unauthorized charges: Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

  7. File your complaint with the FTC. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Click on the link at left or call the FTC's identity theft hotline toll-free at 1 (877) IDTHEFT or (877)-438-4338. The hotline is staffed by counselors trained to help victims and take their complaints. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.

  8. Complete the FTC identity theft affidavit, which will assist you in reporting to many companies that a new account has been open in your name. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
  9. Contact your state attorney general! to alert them to the scam or fraud activity.

  10. For more in-depth information on recovering from identity theft and help with specific problems, read ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.

  11. Stay current with new scams as the emerge, so you don't have this happen again

More information:

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!




For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.