According to the Federal Trade
Commission, 42% of all complaints received by their organization are related to
identity theft - up from 40% in 2002. Between January and December
of 2003, the complaint database maintained by the FTC received over half a
million consumer fraud and identity theft complaints. Reported losses
from fraud totaled more than $400 million.
The costs to the victim-in
terms of out-of-pocket expense and in time spent resolving problems-are
substantially smaller if the misuse is discovered quickly. The FTC
reports that no out-of-pocket expenses were incurred by 67% of those who
discovered misuse of their personal information within five months of the time
the misuse began.
You can find additional
information on identity theft by visiting the following
Reporting this crime is only
the first step in what is usually a lengthy and frustrating process of
resolving your current incident and preventing future fraudulent use of your
identity. Please remember that you will need to file your police report
with the agency located where the fraudulent activity occurred. Depending
on the extent of misuse, this could require that you file reports with multiple
IF YOU HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF
IDENTITY THEFT OR CREDIT CARD FRAUD:
|1. Notify Credit Agencies.
Contact the following
credit reporting companies. Explain that you have been a victim of
fraud and give them your police report information. Ask them to
flag your file as "victim of fraud" and to send you a copy of
your report. When you receive the report, examine it carefully for
any unauthorized or unfamiliar accounts. Ask for the names and
addresses of any creditors reporting unauthorized accounts or inquiries
if you do not already have the information. You will need to
provide the agency with a copy of your police report and ask that any
disputed charges be temporarily removed from your credit history so that
you can still obtain credit while your case is being investigated or
|2. Notify merchants and creditors.
Contact each company who
accepted the fraudulent charge or opened the fraudulent account and
advise them that this was done without your permission. Ask them
to explain their process for resolving fraudulent transactions.
Many merchants and creditors will accept the Affidavit of Fraud form
that can be found online.
Do not send this form to the law enforcement agency investigating your
claim. Maintain contact with each company until their
investigations are complete. Ask each company to instruct the
credit reporting agencies to remove all information related to their
fraudulent transaction from your file.
|3. Review your credit report.
Allow 30 days after
completion of a merchant or creditor's investigation for the credit
reporting agency to send you an amended credit report. If you have
not received an amended report after the 30 days, request one from each
credit reporting agency. Review the report to ensure that the
fraudulent transaction has been removed from your report.
|4. Contact the Federal Trade
If you have been the
victim of a fraudulent credit card issuance, contact the FTC. the
FTC is compiling a nationwide database of complaints and addresses where
fraudulent credit cards and mail orders are being sent. You can
also obtain additional information on protection from the Federal Trade
Commission. The toll-free number is 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) and
the website address is www.consumer.gov/idtheft.