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12 steps for victims of identity fraud

If the police cannot give you a copy of their report, request that they sign your FTC complaint form and provide the police report number in the "Law Enforcement Report" section. Keep the phone number of your police investigator handy on a contact sheet for future reference.

7. Send creditors a copy of your ID theft report

Notify creditors in writing that you have been a victim of fraud and include a copy of your ID theft report.

Further, ask each affected creditor to provide you and your investigating law enforcement agency with copies of the documents showing fraudulent transactions. You may have to fight to get this documentation, but don't give up. You'll need these to help track down the perpetrator.

Informing creditors of the fraud should get them to stop reporting the information to the credit reporting agencies.

"We always advise that you contact the creditor first because they will continue to report that information that they have. But we take steps on our end to make sure that the fraudulent information doesn't show up on the credit report," says Katz.

8. Contact credit reporting agencies

By sending a copy of your ID theft report to the consumer reporting agencies, fraudulent accounts should be blocked from appearing on your credit report.

Nonetheless, consumers must keep a close eye on credit reports to make sure that erroneous information doesn't get added again.

The Identity Theft Resource Center's report, "The Aftermath," found that 43 percent of victims questioned had bad information added back onto their credit reports, and 39 percent found that the credit reporting agencies would not remove the information.

"Often the bad information that they thought they had cleared up mysteriously reappears," says Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG consumer program director.

9. Change all account passwords

If an account doesn't have a password, put one on it. Avoid using obvious passwords such as the last four digits of your Social Security number or your birth date.

10. Contact the Social Security fraud hot line

Notify the Office of the Inspector General if your Social Security number has been fraudulently used. Ask for a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement and check for accuracy.

11. Get a new driver's license

You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is using yours as an ID. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new number.

12. Contact your telephone and utility companies

They need to be alerted in case an identity thief tries to open a new account in your name, using a utility bill as proof of residence.


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