This Article is About
identity theft
law enforcement officials
three major credit bureaus
major credit bureaus
fraud alert
financial losses
burden of proof
bad debt
How Do You Report Identity Theft? Step By Step Guide
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How Do You Report Identity Theft? Step By Step Guide

Having your identity stolen can lean to terrible financial losses if not caught early on. As soon as you suspect that you may have been a victim of fraud, you need to take action quickly. But how do you report identity theft? Well, I'll tell you exactly what you need to do in this article.

Reporting Identity Theft - Step 1

The very first thing you should do is to contact one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You need to inform them that you suspect illegal activity on your accounts and that you would like to place a fraud alert.

Placing a fraud alert will inform any potential creditor who is asked to query your credit report that there is an investigation occurring. This will prevent any further credit actions from happening until you clear the alert or it expires.

Step 2

Take a look at your credit report carefully. Examine each account and ensure that you know about its existence and that the balances look correct. Make notes of anything that looks unfamiliar, and go through the data in detail to verify whether or not you may have created the account yourself.

Step 3

Report all suspicious activity to your local law enforcement officials. If you suspect that the fraud happened while visiting somewhere else, you can also report the crime to the police in that specific area as well. Some creditors will ask to see a police report before they write off and forgive you the bad debt.

Step 4

For each questionable account or transaction, you need to contact the individual creditors and inform them that you suspect fraud. Banks are required by law to forgive most fraudulent transactions, however the burden of proof is often on you. Generally speaking, banks are understanding, and besides requiring police reports, they don't typically ask for much more detail.

I recommend recording notes of all of your phone calls with creditors as well as sending physical letters to each of them. This is for your protection just in case the bank's records don't line up with your account of what occurred. Keep very detailed notes of everything that happens.

Step 5

If you live in the United States, fill out a Federal Trade Commission identity theft victims complaint and affidavit form. If you don't live in the US, contact your local officials to determine your next course of action if your country has a similar reporting program. The FTC won't investigate your case directly, but they will compile statistics and distribute useful information to various law enforcement agencies.

Step 6

Continue to monitor each of your accounts closely for the next several months. If you think that hackers may have stolen your identity, make sure your computer is free from viruses and malware, then change your passwords at each and every website that you frequent.

Especially make sure that your email and bank passwords are not the same, and never use the same password for more than one site. If you do and one site gets hacked, then criminals will often have access to all of your personal data since they will then be able to access your email account.

Step 7

Consider looking into using an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock or Equifax ID Protect. These services typically don't cost much money, and they excel at preventing identity theft in the first place. However, examine your options carefully and make sure that whatever you choose is right for your unique situation.


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