If You Are a Victim

Sometimes an identity thief can strike even if you have been very careful about keeping your personal information safe. If you suspect that your personal information has been stolen or misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately, and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. This information explains what identity theft victims can do in response to most of these crimes.

  • Credit bureaus: Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting agencies - Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. (See their addresses and phone numbers at the end of this document.) Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers. Ask that your account be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report, up to 100 words. ("My ID has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at [your telephone number] to verify all applications.") 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.
  • Creditors: Immediately contact all creditors with whom your name has been used fraudulently - by phone and in writing. Get replacement cards with new account numbers as necessary. Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (This is better than indicating "card lost or stolen.")
  • Law enforcement: Report the crime to the law enforcement agency where you reside. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the report number handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
  • Stolen checks: If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the check verification companies. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account, not your mother's maiden name or anything else that is easy for identity thieves to determine.
  • ATM cards: If your ATM card has been stolen or is compromised, get a new card, account number, and password. Do not use your old password.
  • Fraudulent change of address: Notify the local postal inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud. Find out where fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local postmaster for that address, requesting that all mail in your name be forwarded to your correct address.
  • Social security number misuse: Send a letter to the Social Security Administration by registered mail (return receipt requested). Also, order a copy of your Earnings and Benefits Statement by calling 800-772-1213. Upon receipt, check it for accuracy.
  • Passports: If you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing to be on the lookout for anyone fraudulently ordering a new passport.
  • Phone Service: 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 to be used whenever changes are to be made to the account.
  • Driver license number misuse: You may need to change your driver license number if someone is using it as identification on bad checks. Call the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if another license was issued in your name and to put a fraud alert on your license. Complete the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the complaint form to the nearest DMV investigation office.
  • False civil and criminal judgments: 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 an 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 Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ask how to clear your name.