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Identity Theft

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No One Expects to Be a Victim of Identity Theft, but When It Happens, It Can Be a Great Source of Stress and Financial Hardship.

If someone is fraudulently using your personal information, acting quickly to resolve the damage is your best defense against future attacks.

This Identity Theft Guide provides victims of identity theft with the major resources to contact. You must act quickly and intentionally to minimize the damage.

In dealing with the authorities and financial institutions keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Have a log of all conversations, including dates, names, and phone numbers.
  • Note time spent and any expenses incurred, in case you can request restitution in a later judgment or conviction against the thief.
  • Confirm conversations in writing.
  • Send correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Keep copies of all letters and documents.

Law Enforcement

Report the crime to your local police or sheriff’s department. You might also need to report it to the police departments where the crime occurred. Give them as much information as possible. Get a copy of the police report.


Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies — Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers and request a credit report (free to identity theft victims). Ask that your file be flagged with a fraud alert. Add a victim’s statement to your report. (“My ID has been stolen. Contact me at {your phone number} to verify all applications.”) Ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your file, and how you can extend it if necessary.


PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241


PO Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union

PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Stolen Checks

If you have had checks stolen or your bank account set up fraudulently, report it to the appropriate check verification companies and your financial institution at once. Put stop payment(s) on any outstanding checks that you are unsure about. If your checks are rejected at stores where you shop, contact the check verification company that the merchant uses.

U.S. Postal Inspector

The U.S. Postal Inspector can assist if an identity thief stole your mail to get new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-screened offers, tax information, or if a thief has falsified change-of-address forms. Contact your local post office for the phone number for the nearest postal inspection service or check the Postal Service website.

ATM and Debit Cards

If your ATM or debit card has been stolen or compromised, report it immediately. Get a new card. You may be liable if fraud is not reported quickly. During regular business hours call: 912-236-4400 or 800-442-8877. After business hours call: 800-523-4175.

SSN misuse

Contact the Social Security Administration to report fraudulent use of your Social Security Number online or by phone at 800-269-0271. Order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement and check it for accuracy. The thief might be using your SSN for employment purposes.

Phone Service

If your long-distance calling card has been stolen or you discover fraudulent charges on your bill, cancel the account and open a new one. Provide a password which must be used any time the account is changed.
A woman with a concerned look on her face is checking her accounts

Driver’s License Number Misuse

You may need to change your driver’s license number if someone is using yours as identification on bad checks. Call the state office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if another license was issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. =


Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently, by phone and in writing. You may be asked to fill out fraud affidavits. Get replacement cards with new account numbers for your own accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be processed as “account closed at consumer’s request.” (This is better than “Card lost or stolen,” because when this statement is reported to credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately to credit grantors.

Don’t Give In

Do not pay any bill or portion of a bill that is a result of identity theft. Do not cover any checks which were written and/or cashed fraudulently. Do not file for bankruptcy. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but don’t allow yourself to be coerced into paying fraudulent bills. Report such attempts to government regulators immediately.

Victim Statement

If the imposter is apprehended by law enforcement and stands trial, write a victim impact letter to the judge handling the case. Contact the victim-witness assistance program in your area for further information on how to make your voice heard in legal proceedings.

False civil and criminal judgments

Sometimes victims of identity theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by the imposter. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken or debts incurred by your imposter, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI. Ask how to clear your name.

Legal Help

You may want to consult an attorney to determine legal action to take against creditors and/or credit bureaus if they are not cooperative in removing fraudulent entries from your credit report or if negligence is a factor. Call the local Bar Association or Legal Aid office to find an attorney who specializes in consumer law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair Credit Billing Act.
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