How To Report Identity Theft

If you have your identity stolen, then you need to take action as quickly as possible to get your life back on the right track. In order to report the stolen identity, you will have to take certain steps. Who you call and what you do depends on your situation as well as your local area. For a few tips on how to find out what you need to do, read on.

Realizing That Your Identity Has Been Stolen

First, you should be prepared to recognize the signs of a stolen identity so that you can take action as quickly as possible. About 15% of all victims of identity theft find out by being contacted by a corporation who has noticed strange activity. Usually this means it's fairly late in the process, and more damage has been done than if you noticed the activity yourself.

You should always check your credit statements to make sure they match with your activity. If you lose a wallet or misplace sensitive information, you need to immediately call to cancel your credit cards instead of waiting to see if it turns up.

The Main Steps To Reporting Identity Theft

If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, you should take immediate action to control the damage. These are the main things to do right away:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This will tell the credit bureaus to notify you if someone applies for credit in your name. Here are the phone numbers for the three main credit bureau fraud alert departments:

    TransUnion - 800-680-7289
    Equifax - 800-525-6285
    Experian - 888-397-3742

  2. Contact the companies where your accounts have been compromised to report the fraud and ask that the accounts be closed. Most credit card companies won't hold you liable for unauthorized charges and will help you open a new account. And even if they hold you responsible for the charges, Federal law limits liability for credit card fraud to $50. If your debit card has been stolen, the fraud limits vary according to how much time has lapsed. Therefore, it's vitally important to contact the card issuer as quickly as possible. 

  3. File a complain with the Federal Trade Commission using their online complaint form. Be sure to print out the completed form for your records. 

  4. File a report with your local police department. Be sure to bring along a copy of your completed FTC complaint form, as well as any supporting documents. Also ask for an official copy of the identity theft report so that you can dispute any fraudulent charges made on your accounts.

More Resources To Help You Report Identity Theft

You can also use the resources at the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people recover from identity theft. Their website is located at and has countless resources for victims of identity theft. The information is readily available for anyone who needs it, and is well-organized so that you can find what you need when you need it. You can start with a step by step guide on how to report identity theft. Then you can find out about laws and resources for your particular state. They have contact information that will help you, as well as advice on how to handle the situation. It truly is the best place to go.

Identity theft is never an easy thing to go through, and you will most likely spend hours upon hours of work sorting it out if it does happen to you. But, if you take the right steps in reporting it, you can get things moving faster, and have a better chance of restoring your credit to its original state.

So whether your identity has been stolen or not, you should prepare yourself. Knowing how to report identity theft when the worst scenario does occur can make it a lot less painful, and make the process go by faster.

For more tips and information about identity theft, check out the following articles:

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