Identity Theft: Where Can You Turn To?

You think it’s never going to happen to you until it does, but identity theft can cause a lot of damage -- not just on your personal finances but to the rest of your life.

While taking steps to prevent identity theft seems like the best way to protect yourself, what happens when you become the victim? Do you know where to turn to?

Here are a few institutions that can help you get your identity back:

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    The FTC is the government agency tasked to protect consumer rights and promote fair business practices. The agency maintains a database of all ID theft cases reported to them that can help authorities gain valuable insight in their investigations. They support victims of identity fraud by providing resources such as documents, forms, and other critical information.

    You can obtain the ID Theft Affidavit from the FTC, which is an all-in-one form you can use to report the identity theft to credit bureaus and other companies. A copy can be downloaded from their official website. You may also fill out the form online and print several copies. Call and report the ID theft incident to the FTC at 877-ID-THEFT (438-4338).
  • Your Local Police Department
    Report the identity theft to your local police department as soon as possible. Consider asking for a copy of the police report to keep for your reference with the ID Theft Affidavit. Help the investigators by gathering all the facts about the case. Sometimes, the key to a case lies in the fine details, so try to recall everything and write down every tidbit you can think of.
  • Credit Bureaus
    Consider calling any one of the 3 major credit bureaus  to report that your identity has been compromised. It may be necessary to call all three to make sure all of them are aware of the situation. They can activate a Fraud Alert that can then take effect on your credit report. This means that lenders would be required to contact you and verify your identity before opening an account. Contact numbers for the 3 bureaus are:

    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

    Experian: 1-888-397-3742

    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Lenders’ Fraud Department
    Consider calling all of the credit card companies and various lenders where your identification was used so you can dispute the fraudulent activity in your name. Send them a formal letter of dispute, your identity theft report (ID Theft Affidavit and Police Report), and any other paperwork that supports your claim.
It's no easy task to clear your name, but taking the right steps can help you restore your good credit. Consider learning about identity theft protection services that can help safeguard and restore your identity should you become a victim.