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You discover that someone is using your personal identifying information to obtain credit or to open bank accounts. You have just become the victim of the fastest growing crime trend in the country, Identity Theft.
What do you do?
Immediately report it to the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over your actual residence. If a detective determines that the suspected crime was committed in a different jurisdiction, the matter will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the crime.
Due to the nature and overwhelming number of identity theft cases, law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to investigate every case.
You are the only one that can clear your credit report! Therefore, it is imperative that you aggressively work towards that end. The following will provide you with the resources necessary, including phone numbers and websites, to assist you in this endeavor.
You will be provided with the front page of the Irvine Police Department Identity Theft Crime Report. You should keep this copy for your records and make photocopies to provide documentation to creditors or other agencies.
Immediately call the Victim Assistance Units of the three credit reporting companies; Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax and Trans Union. Request that a “Fraud Alert” be attached to your account. Also request that a victim’s statement be added to your report, indicating that your ID was fraudulently used and to verify any new inquiries by phone. Be sure to ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your account and how you can extend it, if necessary. Be aware that these measures may not entirely stop new fraudulent accounts from being opened by the imposter. You can receive a free credit report once a year and an additional free credit report during that same year if you were a victim of identity theft and have filed a police report.
Ask the credit bureaus for the names and phones numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask the credit bureaus to remove inquiries that have been generated due to fraudulent access. You may also ask the credit bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the last six months in order to alert them to the disputed and erroneous information.
Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently, by phone and in writing. Get replacement cards with new account numbers for all of your accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be processed as “account closed at consumers request” (This is better than reporting the “card lost or stolen”). Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Immediately report any new activity to credit grantors.
CREDITORS REQUIREMENTS TO VERIFY FRAUD
You may be asked by banks and credit grantors to fill out and notarize fraud affidavits, which could become costly. The law does not require that a notarized affidavit be provided to creditors. A written statement and a copy of the police report should be adequate.
If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the check verification companies. Cancel your checking and/or savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account (not your mothers maiden name).
ATM / DEBIT / CREDIT CARDS
If your ATM / Debit / Credit card has been stolen or compromised, get a new card, account number and a new password or PIN. Do not use your old password. When creating a password or PIN, don’t use common numbers, like the last four digits of your social security number or your birth date.
FRAUDULENT CHANGE OF ADDRESS
Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit card or bank fraud. (call your local Postmaster for the phone number) Find out where the fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to notify the mail carrier.
If you believe your mail has been stolen, report it immediately to your local Postmaster or Postal Inspector. You will be asked to complete a PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint. Analysis of these forms helps Postal Inspectors in determining if the theft of your mail is an isolated event or part of a larger mail theft problem in your neighborhood.
If you have a passport lost or stolen, notify the passport office in writing to alert them of the possibility of someone ordering a new passport fraudulently in your name.
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 that must be used any time the account is changed.
DRIVERS 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 Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if another license has been issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license. Go to your local DMV and request a new driver’s license number. Also, complete a DMV complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the complaint form to the nearest DMV investigative office.
FALSE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JUDGEMENTS
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 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 California State Department of Justice and/or the FBI and ask how to clear your name.
You may want to consult an attorney to determine the appropriate 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 to find an attorney who specializes in consumer law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
SAMPLE CREDITOR LETTER
(Reference Number / Account Number)
Dear (Creditor / Collection Agency Name):
On (date) I received your letter demanding payment of ($$amount).
This letter is to advise you that I have been a victim of Identity Theft
and I did not open this account, nor did I incur these expenses.
You are hereby notified that on (date), I filed an Identity Theft Report
with the Irvine Police Department. The case number is (_______) and
a copy of the Irvine Report is attached. If you have any further questions
reference this report, you may contact the Irvine Police Department at
CREDIT REPORTING BUREAUS:
|Report Fraud:||(800) 525-6285|
|P.O. Box 105069|
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
|Order Credit Report:||(800) 685-1111|
|P.O. Box 740241|
P.O. Box 949
Allen, Texas 75013-0949
|Report Fraud:||(888) 397-3742|
|Order Credit Report:||(888) 397-3742|
|Report Fraud:||(800) 680-7289|
|P.O. Box 6790|
Fullerton, Ca. 92634
|Order Credit Report:||(800) 916-8800|
|P.O. Box 390|
Springfield, Pennsylvania 19064-0390
|SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION:|
|Order Earnings / Benefits Statement||(800) 772-1213|
|FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION:|
ID Theft Hotline
|UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE:|
U.S. Postal Inspectors
|TO REPORT THE FRAUDULENT USE OF CHECKS:|
|Chex Systems||(800) 328-5121|
|Certegy(formerly Equifax Telecredit)||(800) 437-5120|
|National Check Fraud Svc||(800) 571-2143|
|TO AVOID RECEIVING PRE-SCREENED CREDIT CARD OFFERS:||1- 888-5-OPTOUT|