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What to do if your identity has been stolen

What to do if your identity has been stolen
What to do if your identity has been stolen

In the event of a crime, you need supporting documentation. Take notes of your correspondences, whether by email, phone, or letter. Include names, dates, and contact information.

Keep track of your hours and your expenses. You may be able to take a tax deduction on expenses related to theft.

Fill out an identity theft affidavit

Fill out affidavits with the FTC and possibly the IRS.

Go to the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission provides an online report at www.identitytheft.gov/. Filling out the form and having it on file at the FTC can help your creditors investigate fraud in your accounts, block it from appearing on your credit report, and prevent companies from collecting debts that are not yours.

Mail it in by certified mail with a return receipt, and take a copy of it to your local police station as part of the police report you should file. While filling out this form will not by itself resolve the theft, it will be one piece that can help your case along. The FTC can refer your complaint to other government agencies or companies.

You can also call the FTC:

FTC's Identity Theft Hotline

1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) (toll-free)

TTY: 1-866-653-4261

Or write:

Identity Theft Clearinghouse

Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20580

Go to the IRS

ID theft can also spill over into your taxes if your Social Security number has been stolen and someone has been using it to report income that they have no intention of paying tax on.

You might get a letter stating that you filed more than one tax return, that you owe money, or that you received wages from an employer that you did not actually work for. The IRS provides an ID theft affidavit at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf. You can also contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.

Stop payment on checks

For ID theft involving your checks or a checking account, contact your financial institution to report it. Ask them to notify the check verification service that it uses so that it can stop payment on them. It is important that you take these steps as soon as possible, because your liability for unauthorized use of your checking account may be limited, depending on the state you live in.

You can also contact the two major check verification companies directly. To ask that they notify businesses that use their databases not to accept your checks, call TeleCheck at 1-800-710-9898 or 1-800-927-0188, or call Certegy at 1-800-237-3826.

To find out whether the ID thief has been using bad checks in your name, call SCAN at 1-800-262-7771.

If your ATM card has been compromised, cancel it as soon as you can and get a new one with a new PIN.

Dealing with accounts that have been used fraudulently

Close any bank or credit union accounts, credit card accounts, or other accounts that have been affected by identity theft or that have recently been opened in your name.

In the case of any creditors, ask that the closures be reported as "account closed at consumer's request." This type of closure will not reflect negatively on your credit report.

Ask for a fraud dispute form from the companies where you are closing accounts. Send it to the address given out for billing inquiries. If they do not have a fraud dispute form, you can use a sample letter form such as the one provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

Sending in a fraud dispute form along with an identity theft report filed with your local police department will carry greater convincing power with the accounts.

If you've had bank accounts opened fraudulently in your name, call TeleCheck at 1-800-710-9898 or Certegy at 1-800-237-3826. They can flag your account to stop further checks from being written.

Get copies

Request copies of the account application and any transactions that the ID thief perpetrated. Do this in writing, and include an identity theft report, a police report, and proof of your identity.

Keep the copies for your records. Also, if there is any identity-theft-related information in your credit report that was provided by businesses, contact the businesses in writing and request that they stop providing it.

By law, they are required to stop providing this information after receiving a request from you. The request should be in writing and accompanied by an identity theft report.

A last step

Once the disputes have been resolved, request a letter from each company stating that it has closed the disputed accounts and discharged the fraudulent debts. These letters will come in handy for anyone who claims that you owe money on the accounts.

Debt collectors

Debt collectors may hound you for payment on accounts that thieves opened up in your name. Inform them that you are a victim of ID theft and are therefore not responsible for the bills. Make your notification both in writing and over the phone.

In writing, include a copy of a police report. The aim is to convince them beyond doubt that you are telling the truth. The debt collector must then pass this information on to the creditor.

Once you have sent this information in, request information about the debt as well as about the creditor. Ask the debt collector to state in writing that you are not responsible for the debt and that it has been closed.

If the debt collector does not cooperate or attempts legal action against you, consider hiring a lawyer to help you.

Dive deeper: Identity theft: Everything you need to know

This content was created in partnership with the Financial Fitness Group, a leading e-learning provider of FINRA compliant financial wellness solutions that help improve financial literacy.

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