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How to report identity theft

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If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, report it without delay to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department. Notifying government authorities will kick off an investigation and help you begin the process of getting your life back in order.

Protecting consumers is one of the missions of the FTC. It does not have criminal jurisdiction in ID theft cases, but it supports investigations and prosecutions of ID theft and fraud. As the federal hub for ID theft reporting, it’s a motherlode of information for law enforcement agencies, enabling them to coordinate joint investigations and stay up to date on investigative data.

Institutions where your information was compromised, such as banks or creditors, may require a police report, so it’s good to also report the breach to local law enforcement.

How to report identity theft to the FTC

To report ID theft to the FTC:

  • Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the FTC’s ID theft portal.
  • Fill out the FTC report forms.
  • You can also file a report calling the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at (877) FTC-HELP.

Get your recovery plan.

How to report identity theft to the police

To file a police report, you will need:

  • Your photo ID.
  • Proof of your address.
  • A copy of the FTC fraud report.
  • Documents to prove the identity theft.

Reporting ID theft to the police

Banks, creditors and other institutions might require a police report on the ID theft. Even if it’s not required, filing a police report is a good step to take in case your credentials are presented to authorities during an arrest or traffic stop.

Be sure to get a copy of the police report once it’s filed.

Your photo ID

The police will require proof of your identity when you file a report. Be sure you have with you a valid government-issued photo ID. The ID you provide, whether it’s a driver’s license, passport or some other identification, should not be expired.

Proof of your address

To further verify your identity to police, have with you a recent utility bill, mortgage statement or lease agreement.

You might have to print copies of your bills if you pay bills online and no longer receive paper statements.

A copy of the FTC fraud report

The FTC advises victims to present a copy of the fraud report to the police because it is an official government document that contains information about the ID theft and lets police know you are seriously pursuing a resolution to the crime.

Documents to prove the identity theft

You will be required to show evidence that your ID was stolen when you file a police report, so have the documents ready.

It might be monthly bank statements showing withdrawals or purchases you didn’t make, or a letter from the IRS saying your tax return was rejected because one had been filed already with your name and Social Security number.

Reporting ID theft to the FTC

The best way to report ID theft is to go to the FTC’s secure online theft portal. After you fill out the theft affidavit, print a copy and keep it for your records.

Visit the FTC’s ID theft portal at IdentityTheft.gov

The FTC portal takes you through a step-by-step reporting process that is easy to follow. The FTC also has a wealth of tips and information to guide you.

You can file a report in Spanish, or other languages through Econsumer.gov. You can also file a report anonymously, but it’s best to give the FTC contact information in case it needs to reach you for more information.

Fill out the FTC report forms

The report is tailored to the type of breach you experienced, so you will first be asked what personal information was lost or exposed, whether it’s your credit card, driver’s license, a child’s personal information or other credentials.

You will be asked how the stolen information was used: Did the thief open a credit card account in your name, or try to take out a car loan? The FTC asks for your personal information, including your full legal name, date of birth, mailing address and phone number and what you know about the suspect, if anything.

File a report by calling the FTC

If you don’t have access to a computer, you can report ID theft by calling the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at (877) FTC-HELP.

Get your recovery plan

To help you restore your credit and reputation, the FTC provides a personalized, step-by-step recovery plan based on the information you shared about the data breach. For example, if your debit or credit card number was stolen, the first thing the FTC advises is to contact your bank or credit card company to cancel your card and request a new one.

The FTC provides form letters to send to credit bureaus, contact information for various agencies and other tools to get you on track to recovery.

When to report identity theft

If you know or suspect that your personal credentials are being used to take out loans, get a tax refund, make purchases, receive jobless benefits or commit some other fraud, you should report it to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.

Identity theft should be reported as soon as possible. If you are lucky enough to find out about it before you become a victim of identity fraud, which is the use of your personal information to swipe your money or commit some other crime, you can minimize the damage.

Other steps to take if your identity has been stolen

Here are a few other things you can do if your personal information has been breached:

  • Freeze your credit. When you apply for credit or a loan, the lender checks your credit report. A freeze blocks access to your credit report so no new loans can be granted with your credentials. “Freezing your credit is just a good idea, regardless of who you are and what your circumstances are,” says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a national nonprofit.
  • If you don’t want to freeze your credit, you can place a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit file, which will make it harder for someone to obtain a loan or credit in your name.
  • Check your credit reports for suspicious activity and mistakes. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com. If you suspect your child’s information is being used, this is a good step because children don’t typically have credit reports.
  • Change logins, passwords and PINs for accounts.
  • Contact the fraud department at your bank or credit card issuer.
Written by
Libby Wells
Contributing writer
Libby Wells covers banking and deposit products. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and online publications.
Edited by
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