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Identity Theft Victims
Been victimized by identity fraud? You may just be discovering how far-reaching the effects of such fraud can be. Recovering from identity theft can be a long and difficult process, but the more quickly you take action the better. Let us tell you where to start.
- The very first thing you should do is contact the fraud divisions of all three major credit reporting agencies to let them know that you have been a victim of identity theft. They will place a "fraud alert" on your file. This will help prevent any new fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name by requiring creditors to get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name.
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- Contact your local police department to file a report. Be sure to keep a copy of the report in case your creditors require proof of the crime.
- Call the federal government's toll-free Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) to report incidents of identity theft.
- Immediately close any accounts that have been fraudulently opened in your name. Be sure to follow up with these creditors in writing as an additional safeguard. Place passwords on any accounts you open in the future for added security.
- If an identity thief has accessed your bank accounts, checking account or ATM card, close the accounts right away. When you open future accounts, request password-only access. Stop payment on any checks that have been stolen or misused. If you lose your ATM card, or suspect that it has been stolen or otherwise compromised, cancel the card and get another with a new PIN.
- If identity thieves have accessed new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers and tax information by going through your mail, or if you suspect that someone has falsified change-of-address forms in your name, promptly notify your local postal inspector.
- If you suspect that somebody has used your SSN to apply for a job, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to check that your reported earnings and name are still being reported correctly.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles if you have reason to believe that your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, request another number.
- Request copies of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies. Comb through your reports to be sure that no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. After 2-3 months, order new copies of your reports to verify that corrections and changes have been recorded and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
- Keep careful and accurate records of everyone you contacted to resolve any problems or concerns, including dates, names and phone numbers of all people and businesses you talked to. This information may be helpful in verifying changes, and as evidence of your efforts to resolve any debt problems.
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