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):
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.
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.
Contact the fraud departments of any one of
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
- 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.
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.
If you have seen unauthorized charges: Close the accounts
that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
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.
- 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.
Contact your state
attorney general! to alert them to the scam or fraud activity.
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.
Stay current with new scams as the emerge, so you don't
have this happen again