Having your identity stolen is a major life-changing event and can have a huge effect on your financial future. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are four things that you should do immediately upon learning that your identity has been stolen, and these steps should be followed prior to filing any bankruptcy proceeding (in addition you should report a misused Social Security number):
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert
- Order your credit reports
- Create an Identity Theft Report
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred
Initial Fraud Alert and Ordering your credit reports.
To place an Initial Fraud Alert, you simply call one of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies (it is not necessary to call all three). The Initial Fraud Alert will stay on your credit report for at least 90 days and will allow you to get a free credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Immediately order your credit report from the agency you call to place the Initial Fraud Alert, then call the other two. The three nationwide credit reporting agencies are:
- Equifax 1-877-670-9175
- Experian 1-877-670-9175
- TransUnion 1-877-670-9175
Create an Identity Theft Report.
An Identity Theft Report can help you to deal with the financial problems that stem from having your identity stolen. There are three simple steps to creating the report:
- Submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and when you have completed the complaint you can print out the Identity Theft Affidavit; your complaint can be filed online at www.ftc.gov/complaint or by telephone at 1-877-670-9175 (1-877-670-9175 TTY)
- File a report with your local police department and get a copy of the Police Report (you should bring your Identity Theft Affidavit, government issued photo ID, proof of your address and any other proof you have of the theft with you when you make your report to the police)
- Attach your Identity Theft Affidavit to your Police Report - this is your Identity Theft Report
Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
You should contact the fraud department or customer service and explain that your identity was stolen and ask the company to close or freeze the accounts. You should also change logins, passwords and PINS for the accounts. Report a misused Social Security number. If you believe that your Social Security number has been misused, you should report the misuse to the Social Security Administration either by telephone (1-877-670-9175) or by visiting your local Social Security Administration Office. Your local office can be found by going to www.socialsecurity.gov/locator and entering your zip code.
The FTC lists additional steps to take next and this information may be found by downloading this report or vising www.IdentityTheft.gov.