ID Theft: What to Do If You Think You’re a Victim

As of 2012, more than 12.6 million adults have been the victim of identity theft, according to research conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research. Chances are you know someone who has been a victim and understand that it could be a very long road to recovery once you’ve been victimized.

If you think you’ve been the victim of ID theft, here are the steps to help you resolve the matter.

Step 1: Contact One of the Three Credit Bureaus
  • By contacting one of the three reporting agencies or credit bureaus (Experian®, TransUnion® or Equifax®), an initial security alert (or fraud alert) can be immediately included in your credit profile to inform creditors to check your identity before approving credit. Just remember, an alert may limit your chances of being approved for new credit right away or you may be asked to provide additional proof of identification. 
  • Securing a report from each of the three bureaus is highly recommended if you believe you might be the victim of identity theft or fraud. When you contact a credit bureau regarding your case, you also may request a complimentary credit report. If you alert one of the credit reporting bureaus about the fraudulent activity, the alert will be shared with the other credit reporting companies, so they can update their credit files.
  • Be sure to keep a record of all phone calls and all documents in connection with resolving this matter in case you need to refer to these items later.
  • Additionally, members enrolled in freecreditscore.comTM have access to dedicated Fraud Resolution Support specialists, unlike other credit monitoring products, to guide you through the process from start to finish.
Step 2: Review Credit Report(s) Carefully
  • Understand what to look for in your credit report and review your credit history carefully for any potentially fraudulent information.
  • If you’ve identified fraudulent data, keep a list of all the potentially fraudulent information found on your credit report. Any data included that looks unfamiliar, including accounts, credit lines, addresses and names should be reported.

Step 3: Obtain an Identity Theft Report

  • An Identity Theft Report will help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report(s), prevent companies from collecting debts that result from identity theft and can place an extended fraud alert on your credit profile. An extended fraud alert will last for seven years.
  • To create an Identity Theft Report, fill out a complaint form on the FTC’s website and print the Identity Theft Affidavit. Use that to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report. You can also obtain an identity theft report by filing an official report about the identity theft to a federal, state, or other local law enforcement agency.

Step 4: Obtain an Extended Fraud Alert and Request Removal of Fraudulent Data From Your Credit Report

  • After you’ve obtained an Identity Theft Report, contact one of the bureaus again to place an extended fraud alert on your credit profile and have the fraudulent information removed.
There are 4 pieces of information that a credit bureau needs to remove fraudulent activity on a credit report:
        1.    Proof of your identity
        2.    Identification of  fraudulent data from your credit report
        3.    A copy of an official identity theft report (from Step 3)
        4.    A statement from you that the fraudulent activity does not relate to any transaction made by you

  • Once a bureau has received the required information, that bureau will remove all fraudulent activity from your credit report within 4 business days.

After following these steps, it’s important to continue monitoring your credit history regularly. Understanding how identity theft can be detected early and resolved is one of the best things you can do to help protect yourself from the harmful effects of identity theft and identity fraud.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions. 

Published by permission from, Inc.  © 2013, Inc.  All rights reserved.