Theft investigations are time-consuming and may require compiling documentary evidence. A successful identity theft investigation requires cooperation from the victim and the merchant or financial institution involved.
Take immediate steps if your identity has been stolen:
- File a police report with your local Police Department.
- Obtain documentation that supports your claim prior to filing a police report.
- You must file a police report where you live and also in the jurisdiction where the identity theft occurred.
- Make copies of any police reports for your personal records, including your name, phone number, and police case number.
- Contact – by telephone and in writing – the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian to place a fraud alert on your record and to order copies of your credit reports. You will get a letter back from all of the credit bureaus letting you know there's a 90-day freeze on your credit file. If needed, you also can request an extension of the 90-day freeze. Review your credit report thoroughly. Identify all fraudulent activity and dispute any fraudulent information. If someone tries to apply for credit in your name, it should be denied.
- Equifax: 800-525-6285; www.equifax.com;
- P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374
- Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com;
- P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: 800-680-7289; www.transunion.com;
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
- Contact your bank and credit card companies immediately by telephone and in writing to report lost or stolen checks or credit cards. Also, when receiving new checks, ensure the box has not been opened and that all the check numbers are there. Have the toll-free numbers and your credit card numbers handy so you know who to call and what to say. This will be easy if you have already photocopied the contents of your wallet, front and back, and stored the copy in a safe place. First Tennessee customers should contact First Link at 800-382-5465.
- Don't forget to contact your utilities company and your telephone company to put a fraud alert on your accounts.
- Have someone at your bank or financial institution explain the process for resolving fraudulent transactions and complete an Affidavit of Fraud. Maintain contact with the financial institution until its investigation is complete. It is important to go to your bank and complete an Affidavit of Forgery if your checks have been stolen.
- Check the post office for other addresses in your name, which is an indication that a change of address form has been filed without your knowledge and your mail is being diverted.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission toll-free at 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338) or online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft/.
- Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271 to report any unauthorized use of your personal identification information. Obtain a Social Security Administration (SSA) report to determine whether benefits have been paid out in your name.
- Contact your state department of motor vehicles to find out if the department has issued an unauthorized license number in your name. In Tennessee, you can e-mail email@example.com.
- Maintain a journal of what happened, who you have contacted, what was lost and the steps you took to report the incident to the various agencies, banks and firms impacted. All correspondence should be sent certified mail, with a return receipt requested.