Reclaiming Your Identity
If you have been a victim of identity theft, take these immediate steps to minimize the damage and regain control.
Contact your bank or credit union to report lost or stolen checks, debit or check cards, and close the accounts. Change your passwords and PINs for your accounts. Upon opening new accounts, ask about enhanced ID and password protection.
Credit or debit card accounts
Identity thieves can change the billing address on your credit cards so they can intercept new cards and make purchases. Keep a close eye on your accounts and watch for any new account openings. Immediately close any accounts which have been compromised.
In rare instances, an identity thief may create a criminal record under your name. For example, your imposter may give your name when being arrested. If this happens to you, you may need to hire an attorney to help resolve the problem. The procedures for clearing your name may vary by city or state.
If you suspect someone is using your driver's license or state-issued ID card, call your Department of Motor Vehicles to see if a new license has been issued in your name. You can put a fraud alert on your license as well.
If someone is using your Social Security number to apply for a job or to work, that's a crime. Report it to the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Also contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or online at www.ssa.gov/oig; to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your Social Security number and to request a copy of your Social Security statement. Follow up your calls in writing to Social Security Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.
Monitor Your Credit Report
This is one of the most important things you can do in your credit recovery.
"Phreaking" is the term used for tapping into a cellular account and making lengthy overseas calls, which are then charged to your bill. Call your provider immediately and change your account's PIN.
If you are having trouble getting fraudulent phone charges removed from your account, contact your state Public Utility Commission for local service providers or the Federal Communications Commission for long distance service providers and cellular providers. You can call 1-888-CALL-FCC, write to FCC's Consumer Complaint Division, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554, or go to their web site at www.fcc.gov.
Call the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 if you suspect your number has been compromised. You can also contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to verify earnings reported on your Social Security number and to request a copy of your Social Security statement. Find them online at www.ssa.gov/oig.
Contact your water, power, gas and phone companies to let them know you've been a victim of identity theft and to be aware of anyone attempting to open new accounts in your name.